Aug 25, 2011

Writing in twos, with Lindsay and Trisha

I'm so excited to be talking with writing partners Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver this week.
The whole idea of writing in twos is really intriguing, possibly because to me, the idea of finding someone compatible writing-wise sounds trickier than finding a husband/partner! Seriously, that is letting someone waaayyy into your psyche.
According to Lindsay, the two met in a critique group, got bored and presto! wrote a novel. Okay, it took a leeetle longer than that. But the bored part is true; that's what made them bounce ideas off each other. Trisha wrote the first chapter, sent it to Lindsay who wrote the next and presto-for-real-this-time: SILO was born. Hmmm....*eyes critique group speculatively* talk about working smarter not harder.
Anyhoo, they buffed SILO (a dystopian YA) so it shined, sent it off and got six offers before signing with Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown.
And they're super eager to tell you what's wrong critique either your query OR the first three chapters of your MS. To enter, please follow this blog and/or tweet about the contest, then let us know about it in the comments. Comments close Monday, Aug. 28.
Without further ado, heeerree are Lindsay and Trisha!

Describe how the writing process works for you two. Is one of you the plotter, the other a descriptor, etc?

Lindsay: Ah, yes. SILO was written with the amazing Trisha Leaver from beginning to end. Neither one of us are plotters and I can’t imagine us trying to write that way. We had a strong beginning and a vague idea of where we wanted to the ms to end, but we let our characters lead the way through the middle.We actually alternated writing chapters - she would write one and pass it to me for editing and then I’d write the next and pass it back to her. It was a fantastic process, but not one that would work for everyone. Trisha and I have very similar writing styles and shared a common vision for the novel, so we meshed very well together.

Trisha: Yeah . . . so not a plotter. I have a mental whiteboard that I use to keep track of my characters and plot threads, but to most people it would look like a giant mess of color-coded scribbles.

At least your scribbles stay in your head. Mine are all over my house.

2. What are the advantages of writing with a partner?

Lindsay: Well, for one it’s fun! I had a blast writing SILO with Trisha and sharing the road to signing with an agent was much easier with a partner-in-crime – someone who completely understands the waiting and the fears because they are literally wading through it with you.When it comes to writing, it’s nice to have someone else to finish a scene when you’re stuck or flesh out a plot-line that you might otherwise leave a hole in. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.

There were plenty of times when I got stuck and had to ship off barely a couple of hundred words to her, rather than a whole chapter, because I hit a wall. Fortunately, if you work well with someone, these moments aren’t a problem because it’s a give and take relationship. Sometimes you give and others you take . . . but in a good writing partnership, neither of you keeps track.

Now I just need to get her to Chicago – we’d be a whirlwind if we were writing together in the same city

Trisha: Knowing that there is somebody, who is mostly impartial, filtering though my often dark and insane plot ideas to find the one that will actually work. That and you never get stuck. When your muse decides to call it quits, there is somebody else there to pick it up.

Oh and there is absolutely no reason why Lindsay can’t fly here to see me!! I do live Cape Cod – summer vacation capital of the East Coast!

Ummm....I have to go with Trisha on this one. I used to live in the Midwest and there are two words for summer there: Hot. Humid. Cape Cod on the other hand, if you can put up with the crowds, has: Ocean. Sand. (Notice how I'm not mentioning Alaska. That wouldn't be fair to either place. ;)

3. The disadvantages? (yeah, be honest. I'm sure you each know them already! :)

Lindsay: Quite honestly, I’m drawing a bit of a blank here. The only thing I could potentially categorize as a disadvantage is that you are always writing to impress. When you’re writing solo, you’ve got only yourself to satisfy in that first draft, but when you are going chapter for chapter with a writing partner, in a way you are writing to impress, hoping they like what you wrote. It keeps you at the top of your game. So, from that angle, it’s honestly more of an advantage than anything.

Trisha: Disadvantages? Sure, I could see how there possibly could be some -- different voices, different writing styles, different ideas of how the story should unfold. Those were all concerns I tossed around before I jumped into this relationship. But to be completely honest, they haven’t come up. Lindsay has a remarkably similar voice and work habits. Plus we both share an affinity for exploring the darker, more desperate side of human nature.

4. How did you work through the revision process?

Lindsay: Multiple phone calls and Skype conversations a day along with copious amounts of wine. Okay, just kidding – there’s more to it than that, though there was a lot of wine and chatting involved in our revisions.

Revisions were based primarily on our own gut reaction as well as the reactions/feedback of our CP’s. We were lucky to have a very talented group of writers reading SILO as we wrote it, catching small glitches before they had a chance to take root.

Trisha: Pretty much copious amounts of wine, although I am sure Lindsay made good use of the mute button on her phone as I screamed and cursed my way through revising some of the more difficult scenes.

Oooh, wine and revision. They even sound like they go together, don't they? Especially if you put an 'h' in wine. *giggle*

5. It's hard enough for one writer to know when a MS is ready for querying. How did you two decide?

Lindsay: I think this was really a matter of us feeling satisfied with it personally. Once we got the reaction from our CP’s that we wanted, and we felt comfortable that the manuscript was as complete and polished as we could make it, we began sending out queries.

Trisha: When it is ready you just know. Then you take a risk and send it out. As my mom would say: you can’t learn how to swim if you never get your butt in the pool!

You heard her, people! Substitute 'read' for 'swim' and 'chair' for 'pool'...oh, never mind. Stop by tomorrow to learn the rest of this daring duo's writing secrets. Who knows - they may rub off on you. Especially if you win one of the critiques!


Heidi Windmiller said...

Very interesting post! I'm just starting to draft a novel with one of my CPers--and any advice is helpful!

Sarah Pearson said...

I love learning about how different people write. I think it's great that Lindsay and Trisha found each other.

JB Lynn said...

I'm in awe of anyone can write with a partner successfully. Congrats on landing Ginger Clark -- so impressive!

Have either of you written novels solo? Did it help to keep you on track knowing that the other was waiting for the next chapter?

Trisha Leaver said...

JB -- not sure if I am supposed to chime in here, but I will anyway. :) In addition to writing spec fiction with Lindsay, I write YA contemporary. I think having your own solo projects is important, not only for the reasons you outlined above, but because it is important for every writer to have their own outlet, a place where they can hash out their individual thoughts and ideas.

Alison Miller said...

Wow! That's so cool that they meshed so well. Great interview!

And thank you for stopping by my blog! New follower!

Lisa L. Regan said...

Great post! I am really fascinated by their partnership. Very cool. Hope SILO is a huge success!

Carrie Butler said...

Great interview! If this were an after-school special, we could all jump up in the air and shout, "Teamwork wins!"

...Come on, you know that'd be (humiliating and) awesome. ;)


Casey Morris said...

Sounds like a great partnership. I would be terrified to try something like this, but that's just me. Great interview too.

Jeigh said...

I think it would be a blast to write with a partner. It sounds like a lot of fun.

I'm stopping by from the Campaign to say hi! :)

Melodie said...

Thanks for your comments! I agree, a writing partnership sounds scary but I think that's bc I haven't tried it yet. Lindsay and Trisha are obviously having a blast.

Those of you who are from the Campaign - extra special hello!! I'll be dropping by as many blogs as I can over the next few weeks...looking fwd to knowing you all. :)

Pk Hrezo said...

This is such a happy ending for something that sounds like a fun, adventurous endeavor! I know Trisha is a fab writer and also gives stupendous critiques! This project of theirs just goes to show that as writers we need to challenge ourselves and put ourselves out there.... ya just never know what could happen!