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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Guest Post: WRITING COLLABORATIONS by Jolene Perry

I'm doing this with Nano
 so I asked the insanely talented Jolene Perry to take over my blog.

If you're looking for the Veterans Day DEPLOYED giveaway, scroll down or click here.

Take it away, Jolene. My blog is now yours ... at least for today;)


I think it’s fun that people are so curious about this. The most asked question that Nyrae and I got on Out of Play was – HOW DO YOU WRITE WITH SOMEONE ELSE???

Here are a few things I wanna tell EVERYONE about it.

1.     If you like being in control, don’t write a collaboration ;-) The FIRST thing I do when I step into writing a story with someone else, is know that the story is out of my hands, know that if someone vetoes my idea, I just move forward, which brings me to…
2.     When you edit. Edit forward. What I mean by this is – If your partner deletes something of yours, or says – “this doesn’t work” or something along those lines. You move forward. You LET IT GO and continue on. If you’re frustrated about this, that’s not good ;-) Which brings me to…
3.     I write collaborations for FUN. The second they’re not fun, I’d walk away. This has not yet happened to me because I’m good at #1 and #2. And this brings me to…
4.     You must trust your writing partner. You HAVE to trust their instincts as a writer, their knowledge of their character, and that they know how to craft a story. Which brings me to…
5.     Picking your partner – The first person I collaborated with was Nyrae Dawn. She is AH-mazing. She’d been writing for a lot longer than I had, and I knew I’d learn a lot. Dizzy was the first book I ever wrote IN ORDER because Nyrae writes in order. Which helps me remember…
6.     I always learn so much when I write with someone new. From Nyrae I learned how to write a story starting at the beginning. I tried to write one on my own this way after we finished Dizzy and it didn’t work, BUT it helped.
7.     Nyrae and I approach a story differently. I come up with the character and the story decisions are dictated by that character. Nyrae comes up with the storyline and then molds her character to fit to it. HARD for me to work this way, but again – see #1.
8.     Christa Desir is not only a writer but an editor. She writes emotion like NO ONE else I know. I really pushed myself to dig deeper into my characters after writing with her. Also. If you’re intimidated by your partner b/c of their awesomeness like I used to be with her? (Now I’m just thrilled to be friends w/ someone who has so much awesomeness) I think it’s a GOOD thing. It’s also good to diversify who you write with, for example…
9.     I needed to write something light and fun, emailed Cassie Mae a premise and a few ideas and she sent me a Chapter One later that day. LOVE that. Her comedy writing is brilliant, so I learned a lot from her too. And…
10. Steph Campbell is the second person I wrote with. She does such amazing deep, conflicted love stories. And we didn’t know when we started, if Tobin and Delia would find their way to each other in the end. It worked. For us.
11. With all of these partners, we each took a character, a general idea of where we wanted the story to go from beginning to end, and then sort of mapped out (kind of) the few chapters ahead of wherever we are. I like to keep things loose so the unexpected can happen while writing.
12. Benefits: I learn a LOT from the people I write with. It’s FUN. There are no long pauses while I figure out plot points b/c I always have a brainstorm partner who knows the story as well as I do. Their audience reads our book, and hopefully some of those people wanna come hang and read my books, and vice versa…
13. So. IF you can do #1 and #2, and keep all the other fun stuff in mind… Writing a collab is a BLAST.
14. And FINALLY. Me and Cassie Mae will be teaching a class on collabs at the LDS Storymakers Conference in 2014 :-D

Jolene wears juvenile T-shirts, worn out chucks and eats too much chocolate. She writes. A lot. She makes up words, drinks Shirley Temples and suffocates a little without her iPod. She writes for Albert Whitman Teen, Entangled Teen and Simon Pulse. Rep'd by Jane Dystel of DYSTEL & GODERICH.


  1. I have never collaborated on a writing project with anyone, although I did propose the idea to my daughter once. She gave me the stink-eye. Maybe we're both too strong-willed and controlling to do it, but it would be fun to make a mother-daughter attempt. Especially if the premise was about a mother and daughter. You've got good advice here if we ever try it!

  2. I've always been amazed at how people collaborate and make a novel seem like it's written by one person. It's an amazing talent to be able to do that and like you say, let go of controlling it all.

  3. Yeah...I don't know if I could get past 1 and 2, though it would be interesting to do for fun some day. Maybe.

  4. I think it'd be fun to try sometime. Of course, then I'd have to stick to a schedule cause you can't let your partner down and I have a tendency to jump to new shiny projects when the urge hits. Someday maybe...

  5. Loooooooove Jolene. She's brilliant. And she has such a way with expressing the right thing in the right moment. Her class at Storymakers will be fabulous. Thanks, Robin, for having Jo here today! :)

  6. I'll be sure to come to your class! Working on a collaboration for five years, you pretty much summarized my experiences (and what I learned). :)

  7. I had a friend asking me about collaborations the other day, and this is great info! Thanks so much for such an in-depth post, Jolene, and thanks for hosting, Robin!

  8. So supah fun to be here!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to see some of you in person!!

  9. I'm always amazed at how much you write and how awesome your collabs turn out! I really want to try a collab someday. We'll see.

  10. Love Jolene's bio!! And I tried to collab once, but it didn't go as planned. I think you really have to have a kindred spirit with your partners.
    Thanks for all the tips!

  11. I found this super fascinating. Thanks, Jolene! And thanks, Robin, for hosting her. I seriously don't think I could ever write a collab, but I highly admire those who can!