Showing posts with label Writers Collaborating. How to Collaborate?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writers Collaborating. How to Collaborate?. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Collaboration & Lessons Learned From Improv

I am not an actor, my husband is. So for years I have stood in the background and watched and listened and learned - because a writer, as you are aware, never knows what might come in handy at some point.

Enter the Five Rules of Improvisation.

As a co-author of a young adult science fiction series, I've come to find the process a bit different from writing alone. I've also found the Rules of Improv have made the process much easier. So for those of you thinking about testing the waters of collaboration here are some ideas that might help:

Improv Rule 1: Anything is possible. As they say, two heads are better than one. Having someone else who is also creative working on a project just increases the energy. When I open myself to the new ideas, I'm often surprised and pleased at the direction I find we are going.

Improv Rule 2: Listen. Listening is a skill that is much needed and rarely used. Most of the time, each of us only listens long enough to determine where we think the other person is going and then we spend the remaining time of their talk working to form our response. When collaborating, it is critical to listen to your partner and even repeat to make sure you both are in sync.

Improv Rule 3. "Yes, and." In Improv you are also working with someone else. If they say, "I'm a chicken farmer," and you say, "No, you're not," the skit is over. When your collaborator says, "I think she should say something like . . ." and you say, "No," your collaboration is over. Using the philosophy of "Yes, and" creates a building of ideas which will result in a stronger relationship and finished product.

Improv Rule 4. Don't only ask questions. This rule is about making the other person come up with the solutions. If my co-author is always asking why? Or how? I'm doing all the work. If I'm the one asking the questions, it's her that is now in that role. Instead, come together with questions as well as the possible solutions to them.

Finally, Improv Rule 5. Know where you are going. You don't need all the final details, just an idea of where you are heading - remember, if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.

Write on!
D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook

Monday, April 16, 2012

Writing: A Collaborative Project

Writing for me, and for most of us, is a solitary endeavor. We sit for long hours alone and pour emotion and ideas on the page. So it is interesting to me those writers who break out and collaborate. Authors such as Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston have  written 18 books together. I had always wondered how they were able to do it. It seems counter intuitive to me, and then I had an idea for a science fiction series.

From the beginning, I knew that this was something that would require collaboration and so I found myself searching for the right-write person to work with me. I cannot remember when the idea first formed, but it was years ago. The niggling feeling of needing to write the story never left and yet, I knew somehow the end result would be incredibly better if I had a co-author. So I never started writing it.

Finally, in 2010 I was able to find that ideal person who saw my vision of the story and wanted to add her own to the mix. And mix it did. Here is what I learned in the process:

1. When a story has numerous different characters, in our case, aliens and teenagers, (okay, maybe not so different) it was beneficial to share the load creatively. Each of us took a group of characters to form and write about. In the end, though, we each could write any of them, because they'd been so well drawn by the other. I think this helped us to create so many completely unique beings. Also, the research was split and so we were able to get right to writing a bit faster.

2. As a solitary author you have complete control of your project. When you agree to take on a collaborator you must release some of that control. As a control freak, I was surprised how this was not an issue. We each listened to the others thoughts and found ways to work that allowed us each to feel in control. Not only that but we each learned things in the process.

3. Which brings me to number three. As writers we have strengths and weaknesses. Find the right collaborator and your weaknesses are helped by their strengths. This was the part I loved the most.

4. Okay, well not the "most" most. The most was that we met over coffee every Saturday morning. We gave ourselves assignments and did our best to "turn" them in on time. This was something else that was great actually. We had accountability to each other. And the coffee was delicious.

It has been two years now. The coffee shop still sees us each Saturday morning where we work on our writing for 3-5 hours together. Our first book in the series will be released this week and we are working on our second in the series. For both of us, the collaboration process has been a smooth and enjoyable process. One that, we both agree, will continue.    

As a devout reader, D. Jean Quarles spent her young years with a book in hand. Later she owned a bookstore and while writing was something she did, it wasn't until her children were grown that she completed her first women's novel. Currently she is working on a young adult science fiction series with co-author, Austine Etcheverry.

You can find her at: Her website
And them both at:  The Exodus Series
                                   The Exodus Series Blog

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