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The collaboration on Days Until Home was an entirely different experience. Alternating chapters is simple enough in concept but adds a new dimension to the writing in a lot of different ways.
First, there was very little outlining. Mark, Greg and I wrote down a super rough idea of things at the start, but it was just a guideline to estimate how long the project would be, as opposed to an outline to follow. I’m normally a big outliner, creating outlines that are dozens of pages long, so this was a new (and fun!) experience for me. Each chapter was written mostly on the fly, seeing where it would take me. Near the end of the project the three of us ran some ideas by one-another a bit more, which was necessary since we were hitting the climax, but most of the book was written more-or-less blind.
Second, the goal of each chapter was slightly different. On normal projects I’m always thinking about what’s next: what’s going to happen next paragraph? Next page? Next chapter? Days Until Home always had a big blank space just ahead, since Mark and Greg would be writing the next two chapters before I had my turn again. So instead of setting up my own plots, I felt like I was playing a game of volleyball, constantly setting the ball so one of them could spike it. I really enjoyed this part of the project because it allowed me to “let things go” that I would otherwise obsess over. Normally I’d be focusing on every little detail to make sure everything is consistent and makes sense, or is perfectly explained. This project allowed me to let go of some of those details, “setting” the ball for Mark or Greg instead.
Finally, the biggest part of this project was not knowing where my writing comrades would take things. I would be brainstorming one thing, and then Mark or Greg would drop a big fat (and awesome) new plot that I’d need to work with. As a writer, this was a fun new challenge. There were times when something they wrote screwed with one of my ideas, and I’m sure there were parts I wrote that messed them up, but that forced us to be more creative and work together.
I had a blast working on this project. Writing once every three weeks helped me avoid writing fatigue, so I was always excited to work on the project when one of my chapters was due. Mark and Greg are great guys who I’d be honored to work with in the future. Check out their other published work if you haven’t already!