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    Share the Work - Co-Author

    Have you ever talked with another writer and you both brainstormed and came up with a great idea? Then maybe you thought, who's going to be the one to write about it? Ah - a solution. Both of you can work together. Co-authoring is very common and popular. Writers across the world often join forces to pen articles, short stories, even books. There's something special about creating with a partner, whether they are one of your friends, or someone you meet just to write with.

    So how does it work? Well, first you need at least one other writer. When looking for a partner, make sure you both like to write in the same genre - i.e. horror, drama, young adult. It's always fun to try something new, of course, but for a project like this, it is best to team up with someone who likes to write the same kinds of things you enjoy.

    After the decision has been made to work together, the next best step is to have someone older draw up a contract of sorts. What? You wonder why you would need that, right? Co-authoring doesn't always work out - sometimes someone quits, or someone decides they've done more work than the other. Sometimes you just can't agree on what direction your story or article should take, so you both quit, leaving you with a good idea that both would like to pursue on your own. No matter what happens, it is best to have a written agreement that an adult has written up for you. Your contract doesn't have to be full of hard-to-understand legal jargon. Rather, friendly language just there to stipulate how things should work out if anything happens, be it publication or a split, will do the trick.

    Once that part is out of the way, it's time to get started. Some of the best ways to begin include:

    • Deciding on a theme or plot.
    • Sharing ideas for the title of the article, story, or book.
    • Deciding whose name should go first. Many times, co-authors decide this by alphabetical order. Also, some writing partners have in the past combined their names into one pen name, so the work appears as first glance to be written by one person.
    • Discussing plans for writing - will you write 1000 words and then your partner write 1000 words? Will you write every other chapter? Will one of you provide the skeleton of the entire work while the other fills in the gaps to bring it all together?
    After you've worked out all these details, settle on one plan of action and get to work. If you run into problems with your first decisions, rethink and begin again. But don't linger too long on the planning. More works have been dropped during the planning stages than any other due to doing nothing BUT planning. You have to move past that and get on to the writing process.

    Once you are writing, though, don't expect it to happen overnight. Writers often get the notion that having a co-author means the work will be completed that much faster. While a book might actually get written quicker, the process is slowed because you both have to agree on each and every thing. If you write a scene that your partner absolutely does not like, it's going to halt the progress right there. So patience must be present.

    Also, things happen in life. When writing something all by yourself, if you don't feel like writing anymore, you can just quit. You only have yourself to answer to. But with a co-author, they are waiting on you. You should be timely. But you should also understand if they don't return and reply as quickly as you might be able. Some writers are able to write thousands of words as if it's not a big deal. Others take all day to get even a few sentences out. Plus, most young writers have many other things going on in their lives, like school, church, sports, music, etc. Just because YOU might think about writing all the time, that doesn't mean your co-author does, so remember that when the process is in full groove.

    Finally, when you complete your project, celebrate together in some way. Don't let the completion be the end of your friendship. Continue to work together even if on separate projects. Not only have you just shared something important with this person, but you've also built a friendship.

    Whether your co-author is right next door, or across the world in another country, you will both find this a journey of fun and learning - and one you'll never forget.

    More Suggestions:

    • If you have a parent who writes, ask them to co-author something with you.
    • Ask your teacher about doing class projects - splitting the class into teams of two to work on creative writing projects together.
    • Spend time teaching the love of writing with a brother or sister by writing stories together.
    * Novel Notes: Scott is at a standstill with his book. He's recently spent more time on poetry and has been having fun in the sun. Angela may have edged ahead of Scott by now, as she has a rough three chapters and scattered scenes.

    Copyright © 2001 Angela Giles Klocke and Scott D. Warren

    Scott is Angela's teenage son. He has won several various writing awards. He maintains a straight-A average and when not doing schoolwork, he can be found with either a book or his AlphaSmart. Scott constantly dreams up new stories and shares them with his family as well as seeks publication. He has been published in Rainy Day Corner as well as a newspaper in Florida, The Williston Pioneer.

    Angela has been writing since she was a child herself. Her passion for helping other young writers is what has led her to co-authoring this column with her own young writer, Scott. One of Angela's earliest works, a poem, was finally published when she was 18, though it was written at age 11.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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