To collaborate or not to collaborate? What to ask before you agree to take on a writing partner

To collaborate or not to collaborate?

That’s a heck of a lot more than just one question.

Here’s Part 2 (continued from One Book Two Authors): What to ask before you agree to take on a writing partner

frank zafiro, author, crime

Photo courtesy of

Now that I have one entire collaboration under my belt I can talk as an expert. Or can I? In any case this is what I’ve learned and will seriously consider these points the next time I get the collaboration itch.

1) Voices

Do the two of you have similar voices? No two collaborations are executed alike. Since Frank and I live 3,000 miles apart, we figured the easiest MO was to have one of us write a few chapters and then send it off to the other to pick up where the other left off. That would’ve been problematic if we had wildly discrepant writing styles but we didn’t. Frank was able to parrot my writing and I his. The proof of the pudding was when we sent the finished work out to our beta readers and specifically asked if they could identify who wrote what. They couldn’t, and now in post production, I even have trouble identifying my own writing. However, I will insist on taking credit for all the good parts-LOL! Be sure to read at least one of your prospective partner’s books cover to cover before you take the plunge.

2) Point of View (POV)

Everything was going along swimmingly until I switched perspectives and wrote a a few chapters in the third person. I normally write in traditional thriller format, which means that I alternate perspectives in order to build suspense. Frank didn’t, and was kind of taken aback when he read my latest chapters. He was willing to try alternating perspectives but I could tell that he was uncomfortable with the idea. So I bit the bullet and decided it was wiser to go with first person from first page to last. The novel didn’t suffer as a result of it.

3) Speed up or slow down?

One thing you’ll have to get used to is reading the work in progress over and over and over every time it’s your turn to write. Frank and I both write quickly but we both had other projects and demands to work around so I often found myself waiting weeks for the work in progress to come back to me. Needless to say, I had other projects on my desk and had to read the collaboration from page one every time I had to sit down and write. I don’t think there’s anyway around that one.

4) Please be kind

No matter how much you like and respect your partner’s work there will come a time when you say to yourself, “What the hell is this?” Before you fire off a scathing email, remember that you partner had something in mind that he or she thought was pretty compelling. So don’t shoot from the hip. Think about it. Mull it over. And if you still can’t live with it, remember to be diplomatic. Remember, two can play at that game.

Crime scene, the last collar, frank zafiro, lawrence kelterI hope you find this info helpful. I found the project with Frank Zafiro fun. It’s kind of playing Mad Libs, chapter by chapter, and I grew from the experience.  

Look for The Last Collar from Lawrence Kelter and Frank Zafiro coming in 2016.



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