patlawrencemusings

Author of Suspense Thrillers talks writing & stuff

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

IN THE CLOUDS

Even though I have been a Mac person for many years, the whole idea of “The Cloud” has had me in a virtual cloud. Just couldn’t wrap my brain around it and didn’t know where to start. Still working with the Leopard operating system on my laptop and desk computers and have failed miserably more than once attempting the upgrade to Snow Leopard, which is supposedly required in order to initiate the transfer over from Mobile Me. But with only five days left before Apple’s deadline, it was “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” Lo and behold, it worked! What in the world was I afraid of? The Cloud is fantastic. What I want to know is, where IS this Cloud?

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Received a phone call a little while ago with the news that an opinion letter I wrote yesterday has been approved for publication. Not only did this make my day because the subject was something near and dear to me, but also because it always feels so good to see my thoughts in print!

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My writing partner is sitting across from me at the moment organizing k-cups for our new coffee brewer. It is an amazing process. (the organizing, not the brewing) Four large canisters, each one holding a different classification of beverages – regular flavored coffee, decaf flavored coffee, hot chocolate and tea – serve as our “back up supply” and go into the pantry. Sitting next to the magical machine is a three-drawer coffee pod tower, each drawer assigned its own special type of brew. And atop the tower, proudly displayed, rests the k-cup carousel, each row assigned a particular blend. Oh, if only my partner’s half of our desk were even half as organized! (in all fairness, the same goes for my side of the desk.)

We do have one dilemma with the classification of brews. Do we assign the chai lattes to the tea drawer, the flavored coffee row on the carousel, or the drawer with the hot chocolate pods? Someone wonders.

 

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COLLABORATIVE WRITING–“YES, DEAR”

‘Pat Lawrence’ is part of the fiction. ‘Pat Lawrence’ is a pseudonym for our husband and wife writing team of PAT Adsit Burke and Daniel LAWRENCE Burke.

People often ask us, “How do you do that? How do you collaborate?”

  • Do you each write a draft and then combine them?
  • Do you write alternating chapters?
  • Does one of you write the descriptions and the other write the dialogue?
  • Do you sit and write every word together?

The answers to these questions are:  Not really, No, No, and Definitely Not.

Collaborative writing is like riding a tandem bicycle:  one author steers, but both authors provide the energy to move, watch to avoid the hazards, agree on which direction to turn, and settle on the final destination.

Our novel collaborations begin with agreement on a single idea that serves as the overarching theme of the entire work. That theme for Jarred Into Being was that each individual life is profoundly influenced by the lives which intersect and surround it.  Next, we agree on the major plot elements that need to occur to craft an interesting story that will illustrate that theme. In Jarred, a young girl’s loss of her parents places her in great peril because the characters now intersecting and surrounding her life want to possess her rather than protect her. The conflict in the novel arises out of the fact that our main character, Eva, is unwavering in her determination not to be possessed, and she continually battles for independence and freedom from the powerful and corrupt forces who would dominate her.

After that, draft one begins in earnest.  We create the incidents and the characters which dramatize the main character’s plight. One of us (the partner who steers the bike to continue the analogy above) writes sections—maybe a chapter, maybe several—and submits those to the other partner. That partner reads, edits, searches for flaws, plot failures, and adds suggestions for additions or deletions and returns the sections to the other partner who incorporates the suggestions into the ongoing manuscript. That process continues section by section until we reach what we agree is a satisfying conclusion to the book.

For draft two, we separately read and revise the entire work from beginning to end, and then we each submit our suggested revisions to the other for consideration.  Finally, in draft three, we collaborate and discuss all the suggested revisions we have both made and ultimately agree on what emerges as our final version.

This collaboration process works well for us. We enjoy it, and we agree on the most important aspect of writing: always make it interesting. In fact, throughout the entire process we constantly challenge ourselves and each other by asking: “Is that last sentence, paragraph, chapter compelling enough to capture and hold the reader’s interest?” The answer MUST BE “yes.” If the answer is “maybe” we immediately employ our ironclad rule: rewrite.

Ultimately, we both have learned that the two most important words in a husband-wife collaborative writing team are—“Yes, dear.”   Happy reading.

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