You know that I RARELY participate in blog tours if you are a regular reader of this blog but I am OBSESSED with These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (link is to my Save the Date — my review is to come next month!). It was such a wildly fun science fiction read SET IN SPACE and I really enjoyed it. I’ve read books that were co-authored before (mostly David Levithan’s stuff) and I’ve found the process fascinating — ie. David said he and Rachel Cohn would send each other emails with their chapter and then that person would write their chapter based on that).
So obviously when I read this I was curious about their process and I’m so excited to have Amie and Meagan on the blog today to talk about how they use technology to write with a partner! I think it’s an interesting topic both for readers AND for writers who might be interested in going that route. Really, it’s interesting even for any other sort of collaborative project you may be doing!
Living on two different continents has its advantages, but is also means we have to be creative when it comes to writing together. These Broken Stars was plotted together in our living room in Australia, but once Meg moved back to America, we had to come up with some smart ways to make technology work for us.
With our timezones pretty much the opposite of each other, we always email the manuscript to the other before we go to bed. That way when we wake up the next morning to take it back, it’s like magical elves wrote a new chapter overnight! It’s always so exciting to see what that new chapter looks like!
Here’s the nitty-gritty on how we use technology to get our work done:
Oh, we’d be in so much trouble without the ability to video chat! We both type over 100 words per minute, but our brains still race faster than our fingers can type! Especially when it comes to brainstorming, it’s great to be able to jump on video chat and just talk it out. It means we can both see when the other is pausing to think and give them room, and allows us to jump around. We’ve learned to write down what we decide, though, after managing to forget the final decision a few times!
Where would we be without our ability to talk and text? Viber’s a free app (and there are many others like it) that allows us to talk and text whenever we like, using just our data or our wifi. The texting is particularly handy—as Amie wakes up in the morning and gets to work, Meg might be heading off to make dinner. Texting means Amie can get stuck into the manuscript, and summon Meg back with a text message if we need to talk. Simple, but super effective.
Everybody uses comments and tracked changes, but after so long working together, we practically have our own language. From a blank comment highlighting one word (this indicates the word is a repeat of a word used earlier in the sentence – for example, the second use of “terrible” too close to the first) to long comment conversations, we make the comments work for us. Often whole conversations will happen inside one comment. Someone leaves a question, and the other person comes along and poses some suggestions for how the problem might be fixed, and then when the manuscript is handed over again, the conversation continues. We make sure one of us uses bolded text and the other doesn’t, so it’s easy to see where a conversation is happening. We’ll be honest: there are a lot of jokes in those comments as well. It’s hard to be professional ALL the time!
So. Valuable. These are a must for any collaborator. A google doc means everybody always has the most up-to-date version of the book, and it means you can both collaborate on the same document in real time. Very handy!
We hope this behind-the-scenes glimpse was interesting—just a small sample of the many technological tricks we have up our sleeves!
Thanks ladies! I’m also a huge fan of the Google docs in keeping The Broke and the Bookish organized as well as a similar text app to Viber– Whatsapp. You ladies sound like you have so much fun writing together!!
I highly recommend if you haven’t heard of this book! I am not a huge science fiction reader but I would HIGHLY recommend this to people who aren’t into it either.
It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.
Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.
Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.
Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. You may also sign up for their newsletter as well! These Broken Stars will be available in North America on December 10, 2013.
Follow the tour:
Monday, 11/11 The Midnight Garden
World-Building for the Future
Tuesday, 11/12 Love is Not a Triangle
Wednesday, 11/13 The Perpetual Page-Turner
Using Technology to Write with a Partner
Thursday, 11/14 Good Books and Good Wine
Audiobook Sample + Narrator Interview
Friday, 11/15 The Starry-Eyed Revue
Character Interview with Tarver
Monday, 11/18 Cuddlebuggery
Tuesday, 11/19 Books With Bite
Amie & Meg’s Favorite Things
Establishing Characters with Role-Playing
Friday, 11/22 Nawanda Files
Lilac’s Gorgeous Dress: A Look at These Broken Stars’ Cover Art