How we write, two – Olive

Some people have asked how we write together as most authors write solo, and that’s hard enough. There are other well known authors who write under one singular pen name such as James S. A. Corey, the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who wrote the Expanse series. There is a way, friends!

Aristen and I have been writing together for a very, very, very long time … the majority of our lives, come to think of it. I’m not sure what the first book we wrote together was called, but it was likely in the first grade. We also wrote comic books together, a series called “Mon News.” “Mon” as in mongoose because both of the main characters (two female mongooses, yes, there is a trend here) were mongooses. But, as it often happens, these weren’t the normal run of the mill mongooses, these were mutant alien mongooses who lived on a planet in outer space (not Earth … because Earth is also a planet in space, sorry, just had a lawyer moment).

But nowadays, while writing OF GOLD AND FIRE and this blog, and tweeting, and just about anything to do with our work, we talk constantly. We do a lot of war gaming, as described by Aristen in her post, “On finding a shared vision.” But we also do it constantly, like at all hours of the waking day.

Something that also seems to surprise people is the volume of work that the two of us can produce. In the past three years, with jobs and everything, we’ve written enough material for at least five books, maybe more, and that’s only in the Azura’s Chosen series. Both of us have other outside solo projects, and we both have been working on novellas within the Azura’s Chosen universe.

As we talk about the stories (constantly), we write notes in gdocs. We save conversations on gchat. Ok, we’re google whores, it’s evident. But the point is we are constantly communicating our ideas which frequently come at odd times. During a meeting. Cleaning the house and while doing yard work. I’ve even woken up in the middle of the night to write something down. I keep a steno pad next to my bed, just in case, and usually have various notes on my iPhone’s notes. I remember having an idea about something as I was reading a legal book, which seems somewhat odd the more I think about it. Legal reading is often the driest form of reading there is, yet my brain seems to always be working. Sometimes, I even have notes in legal books related to my hobby. I hope I didn’t ever forget to erase the notes after I resold the books… That would be weird to come across while reading a law school case book, wouldn’t it?

Once we’ve discussed, the writing becomes fairly easy. Sometimes we write to get things down, and then we return later to add more flowery language or descriptions. This process works best for scenes and action, though we also discuss how things look, what people are wearing and…the weather. We use secret boards Pinterest too, ones that only we can see, which confirm what we think the other one already understands, just in case (we also use Pinterest for motivation or inspiration, and, unlike most other things I post on Pinterest, the contents actually get used). Although there hasn’t ever really been a point where we were completely off about the others’ internal thoughts, there have been times when we misunderstood the other over some form of communication, usually of the typed variety.

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