Monday, June 4, 2018

Guest Post: Tess Keeler

Today I'd like to welcome Tess Keeler to the blog! She was kind enough to shed some light on her process of co-writing a novel with her wife. You can find Everything Comes Back to You on Amazon here.

Hey, everyone!

I’m Tess Keeler, co-author of Everything Comes Back to You, a YA/NA novel centered around two male childhood best friends who, you guessed it, fall in love. My wife, Saundra Keeler, and I wrote our debut novel with alternating point of views of River Saxton and Aiden Jacobs, the two main characters. Each of us had created our character from the heart and built their world around it. We took turns writing chapters from our personal character’s point of view. It was a fun and interesting process, but we enjoyed it, and we are currently writing our second novel in the same format.

That leads me to our subject of the day: I want to talk to you all about the process of writing a book with two authors.

We have always written in a back and forth process since becoming writing partners in 2012, but when we decided to start writing Everything Comes Back to You, we had never written the amount we were committing to. We started off with a 50,000 word goal, and by the end of the novel, we had over 80,000 words. 

We find outlining to be more structured, so we did that before anything else. Our novel is a little different than most, because it has a time jump of five years in the middle (hence the YA and NA genre title). Because of our time jump, we wanted to make sure that it was a mostly equal combination of both timeframes. We took our goal and divided it in half. That was where we would most likely make our shift. We took those amounts (25,000), and divided them by 2,500 (our chapter goals) to give us the amount of chapters needed to meet our goals.

Getting the number of chapters needed to fill our book was the easy part. We would write them down in list form with dashes beside them, and we would begin filling in our major events (while deciding if it was an event both of us needed to write a chapter about), spacing them far enough apart to create growth between events. We really aimed for creating an emotional bond between the readers and the characters. Then we chose who would start the novel, and the opposite person ends would the novel.

Once the major events were penciled in, we filled in any other scene ideas and where they would fall on our outline. We don’t always have a lot to start, but we usually have a good idea. The ones that are blank, we write “filler”. These are usually filled in later if we think of something, or the person writing that chapter with come up with something on the spot that is productive for the novel.

Working as a team can sometimes be difficult. Agreeing on supporting characters and how they behave can be a challenge, all while both learning to control them the same way. Before we can ever start writing, we have to have a face, name, and personality to every character we plan to introduce, so that we are both comfortable writing them in any situation.

The main characters can be tough as well, but we enjoy asking the other author what their character would say or how they would react instead, making it true and genuine to the character as the creator sees it in their heart, but written in the point of view character’s charm. River and Aiden are our babies. Each of us favor our own to the point of feeling betrayed when our friends assume I write hers and she writes mine. It’s silly really.

Our chapters are mapped and our characters created, so then we choose the setting, the overall ambiance of their environments, and all the other details that go into setting the tone of the novel. I find the location fun, because we spend time researching the places we choose. Portraying everything well is important to us. 

After writing everything down, the first person begins the first chapter, and then it’s in the moment decision making and brainstorming until we feel like the story has been tied up. 

One great thing about co-authoring is two sets of eyes proofreading and editing the work. We each read it wholly once, and then we decide if anything needs to be added. Is there anything missing from the story?

Since creating this process, we have been successful in keeping our momentum. I can write my chapter better knowing that Saundra is covering a certain event. I can lead up to it in a way that is beneficial to the character development and all over quality of the novel. 

And that’s it! 

I hope you enjoyed learning about our process. As most authors do, we hope our effort shines through our work. If you have any questions on the writing process of co-authors, you can find me on instagram: @tesshybe

About Everything Comes Back to You:
River and Aiden had been inseparable since Aiden’s family moved in next door to their West Seattle home, nearly seven years prior to their senior year of high school. River Saxton was a seventeen-year-old who loved music and comics. Aiden Jacobs was a sixteen-year-old who loved painting and girls. They both bonded over their dysfunctional families and the love they shared for their small group of friends.

After another uneasy breakup and a moment of vulnerability, Aiden was in River’s room, and suddenly they were kissing.
With River’s innocence and Aiden’s identity on the line, two best friends struggle to define the line between friends and lovers. 

When River leaves for an incredible opportunity in Florida, Aiden is left wondering what more he could have done to keep his best friend from moving on.

Five years of experience, growth, and suffering passes before they see or speak to each other again. River moves back home, but he’s brought someone with him. Aiden wedges himself in the middle of everything. Are they getting a second chance at friendship, love, or both?

Disclosure: this post contains links to an affiliate program (Amazon), for which I receive a few cents if you make purchases.

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