Mikea Howard

Author of The Diesel War series

Website of Mikea Howard, author of the dieselpunk paranormal erotic romance series The Diesel War

Co-writing Logistics

Ok, so I added the dream scene to what Kelly had already sent me and emailed it back to her. Feeling all kinds of pride that I FINALLY had something to show her. I was now 60% less of a slacker than the 15 months prior.  

She replied saying that she too had had some additional random content come to her during the 15 month idea fermentation. Which brought up a really interesting question. What process are we going to use to co-write this thing? Were we going to just have one MS Doc that we emailed back and forth, adding any new things that our muses fed to us? But what if we both had ideas, but they conflicted on our imaginary timeline? Or do we do what our author friend and her co-writing partner do, and write via a chat application?

Wow, so many options were out there. Me being me, a research geek, I took to the internet to see what other ways to co-write were possible. Ok, ok, I hear those of you that know me yelling "HA! Research geek? Try just a geek, period." Statement accepted, and acknowledged.

During my research I remembered a few years back another friend of mine sharing a document with me via Google Docs. It was a fantasy story she'd been working on based on her D&D group's current role-playing game characters. I looked up Google Docs, found out it was now all part of something new (to me) called 'Google Drive', logged in and low and behold there was her story. She'd even updated it since I last had a look (*cough* four years ago *cough*). There was nothing left to do, but for me to give it a try by creating my own document, copy and paste what Kelly and I already had into it, share it out to her and see how well it worked. To keep track of who wrote what, and what was new content and what was old, we each picked a color to write with. Me, I chose red, Kelly chose lilac. But once we would read the other person's new entry, we would change it to black. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!

It proved to be the perfect tool for me  and Kelly to write together. Not only did it help with version control by having only one version of the story out there, but with the real time content updates, we were able to keep from writing any conflicting story content. My favorite part however, was how we could both be adding to the document at the exact same time AND be able to chat with each other in the built in chat window. If we both happened to have the document opened at the same time we were able to idea dump and pow-wow plot lines on the fly. Hell, that's how The Mechanic's Mate got it's ending long before we had most of the middle filled in. We started brainstorming something else entirely, and our muses used their Wonder Twin powers (mine took on the form of an eagle) and began weaving the ending.

OH! And the comments function! I must gush about the comments function. Because of our different timezones (Kelly in ET Zone, myself in MT Zone) and our different sleep habits (Kelly doing the right thing and going to bed at a decent hour, while I chose to stay up until ungodly hours and get minimal sleep) there were times when we weren't both working the document at the same time. So chatting thoughts and concerns wasn't an option. In those instances we were able to highlight the word, paragraph, or section in question and enter an comment. It would stick it off to the side of the document, as well as email the comment to the other person. Giving them the option of either just replying to the email (which would update the doc with their reply comment), or open the document and add their reply comment. My ONLY complaint about the comments function (Are you listening Google? Because this is important), is that you can't see or add comments in the iPhone/iPad Google Drive application (assuming it's a problem with the Droid app too). Which became a complication with our beta readers being able to leave feedback on the fly as they read the manuscript (more on that later, when I blog about beta readers).

So with the co-writing logistics ironed out, all we needed to do was open our minds and write.