Writing with a Partner – Collaborative Editing

To continue our discussion from last week (tl;dr – writing with a partner is awesome, assuming you find the right partner), this week I am going to discuss the theory of editing collaboratively.

I say theory because I have not done this.  Sure, I’ve edited anthologies and other group projects, but that’s still very much an individual sort of thing – at least in my experience, you’re assigned a story, you edit it, you send it back to the author or some central person – not a lot of interaction.

But this is different.  This is something that we have equal shares in.  You can’t really break up a novel and say “okay, you edit this part and I’ll edit this part.”  All that will get you is incoherence and discord.

By myself, I edit like so (note: this only works for books with chapters – books without chapters like Hidden Worlds tend to involve more re-reading and a ridiculous amount of post-it notes).  However, here’s how I imagine a dual editing process would go (my lovely partner Sarah is welcome to tell me I am crazy.  I do not know what her usual editing process is).

I imagine first off we’d both do an overall read through to determine overarching plot issues.  And then I imagine we would discuss our findings and determine a path forward.  We are nothing if not cooperative.

From there, I see things getting tricky.  We switch off, scene by scene, between our characters.  What if some scenes need to be cut out?  It will ruin our back and forth.  There will be CHAOS and DESTRUCTION.

I just like capital letters.

Where to go from there?  I imagine we might divvy up the parts that need to be fixed based on which character’s viewpoint it fits best in and then go through an iterative process of rewriting and discussing until we’re happy with how things have turned out.

And then we can re-read it again and repeat the whole process.

I wonder if it’ll be more or less frustrating working on something together as opposed to going it alone.

Anyone ever edited a collaborative story?  How’d you do it?  How’d it go?

3 responses to this post.

  1. The only thing I ever co-wrote was pretty disappointing. I felt like my partner was just phoning it in, and I couldn’t get her to step up. In favor of keeping the friendship, I let it go. I still want to rewrite it properly.

    I don’t think we even tried to edit it.


  2. My editing process normally goes something like this:

    1. Finish draft
    2. Inflict said draft on some readers and hope for comments. As my rough drafts are written in lots of small writing times, some silly errors tend to creep in.
    3. Read their comments.
    4. Let things percolate
    5. Make the small changes that were suggested.
    5. Go through draft myself once (trying not to change anything)
    6. Go through draft again, this time making note of weak scenes/chapters, global issues, little tweaks.
    7. Inflict draft on some more readers if I can find them.
    8. Tweak more on my own.

    This last time I worked on EGtSV I figured out how to merge documents so two of the crits were in one file – this was very useful.


  3. […] Writing – Characters Outlining Writing with a Partner – Collaborative Editing What Would You Put on a List of the 100 Best Scifi/Fantasy Books? Of Sleep Deprivation and […]


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