Conventional Wisdom Part 2

I love workshops at conventions! From the many science fiction conventions I have attended to my first writers convention a year ago, I can’t believe all the information out there, all shared by wonderful, successful authors.

Because of my involvement with anthologies, I sat in on a panel at Condor that covered Team Writing. David L. Drake and Katherine L. Morse are a husband and wife team that write a great series of steam punk stories featuring their own alter egos, the Adventures of Drake and McTrowell: Perils in a Postulated Past. Their situation is totally different, but still they had a lot of great advice to share.

032016 anything you want

Their first point is to Divide and Conquer: Task assigning. Go with the strengths of the individuals. If one person has a flair for dialogue, and another is great at descriptive prose, assign accordingly. Then, Setting the Stage: Determine key plot points. How much outlining is enough? Well, you need as much as makes everyone comfortable. The tasks that need to be assigned include: Plot Development, Detailed Scene Setting and Characterization, Available Time, Research, Drafting versus Polishing, and Tag Team – Hot Potato.

032016 i in team

In case you haven’t heard these phrases, Plotters are people who must have a detailed outline before writing the story. Pantsers like the adventure of discovery as they write. With one of each on a team writing the same story, concessions need to be made. They use dates to sync the separate story-lines. And they found that more details were needed as the story grows.

Motivation and Believability: Human psychology applies. They do their world building together, and use an egg shape to graph the story. () The top is the start, the explaining. The middle is the expansion of the story, the lower area is the denouement, and then the resolution.

032016 book

How much historical accuracy is needed? You should make a decision and stick to it.

Tools and Techniques: Various writing programs came under review.
Microsoft Word – Feature rich, easy to use
Pages – A Mac centered program compatible to Word
Scrivener – Favored by many writers, great for teams
iBooks Author – Mac-based ebook writing system
Final Draft 9 – Geared more to screenplay writing, but worth checking out
Ulysses III – Another Mac program, now available for iPad use
FocusWriter – Yet another, further, different Mac program, this one is distraction free.
WriterRoom – See above.

Depending on the system you use, you will need to review the programs above and make the best choice for you. David and Katherine have a heavy graphics element in their books, employing eight artists for the first book alone. So a Mac is the best choice for them. The key is to get your words down.

032016 art

A question came up about how they communicate when their work takes them off to different places. They only use email when first proposing and agreeing on a story to do together. Then they use Whiteboard or WebEx . They share their drafts in DropBox or GoogleDrive.
After 100 pages are completed, they start keeping each chapter in a separate file. They use spreadsheets to track days, events, and character details.

032016 London cover

After a number of books have been published, they developed an Omni Group to help with the timeline and track things. Sources for the historic framework in which they place their fiction include Wiki, which is okay for current events, not so accurate on history unless it was a rather well known incident. And maps, which can be actual historical references or you can draw your own.

Go Beyond Writing! Put on your writing helmet. And be sure to visit Drake and McTrowell:

Thanks for reading!  I’ll be back on Thursday with a regular blog, and wrap up Conventional Wisdom in April.  March 27th will be my monthly look at health for writers.

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