Collaborative Writing: Whose Name Comes First?

This question was posed right when Becca and I started writing together. Whose name would be first on the book? For other writing duos it might be in alphabetical order or maybe the more famous of the two. It will always differ. Especially for us. We’re sisters. In fact, we’re twins. So you might be a little surprised why my name is first on the book. Let me answer some guesses that I’m sure you have before I reveal the truth 🙂

Krista, why does your name come before Becca’s on the book? 

Is it because you’re older? 

My Answer: Yes, I am older! By a whole minute! And I will continue to hold that over Becca’s head for forever. But I’m not cruel enough to bulldoze over her like a barbarian for the honor of being named first. So…no.

Is it because you wrote more of the book? 

My Answer: We contributed the same amount. Neither of us we’re taking tally but if I had to place my bets, I’d say Becca physically wrote more. Look, she’s got the English degree, she’s been writing longer, naturally she’s better suited for this lifestyle. If anyone believes I’m first because I’m the better writer or I wrote more, they are highly mistaken. I hold my own in terms of writing, but I will always contest that she’s better than me. So again…no.

Is it because you’re taller? 

My Answer: We’re twins! We’re the same height, dummy!

Is it because you’re smarter? 

My Answer: We are both equals on the intellectual front. I may be a little sharper in science and math, but she makes up for it with her English and Telecom wizadry.

Is it because you started writing the book first? 

My Answer: This is true. I wrote ADDICTED TO YOU first. The very first draft that was on life support until Becca got her hands on it. She added her own things, tweaked some characters, left some stuff, and then let me go back and edit. Then we edited some more. So…being first to the punch really doesn’t make a difference in terms of how we write.

Is it because you’re prettier? 

My Answer: We are identical twins. Enough said.

Is it because you threatened her? 

My Answer: What?! That’s a terrible thing to ask. The answer most certaintly is no. Meanies.

And the most obvious one: Is it because people refer to you as “Krista and Becca” and NOT “Becca and Krista”

My Answer: Surprisingly, this one is a big fat NO as well. Our names have always been interchangeable, and I can’t pinpoint an order that people usually use. In high school though (about to get a little psychological up in here) people wouldn’t refer to us by our first names at all. It was commonly either the Ritchie Twins or just the Twins (we didn’t have many sets of identical twin girls in our grade). Identity instantly lost in that case. But I digress…there is no particular order that people used for us.

So then why the hell is my name first???? 

The answer will either literally be the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard, or possible the funniest. So when we were deciding whose name would go first, it was a quick decision. We realized quickly that we didn’t want anyone to shorten the name down to B.K. because…let’s be honest that is Burger King. And if you’re like us and have seen “Generation Kill” it’s also slang for Baby Killer. So…there’s your little odd explanation.

Now if you ever read our books and think that I’ve somehow contributed more because my name is first, you’d be dead wrong. Becca is just as important and I argue with her about putting her name first on Goodreads at least (I’m forcing her for future books) so that she can get the type of credit she really deserves.

In the end, we are equal partners in crime and have equal contribution to the book. But someone’s name has to go first, and mine just happened to be there because of Burger King 😉

Writing with Music. Why it can be bad.

Some people write with music, other’s find that it distracts them. I know that I can’t even begin to form sentences in silence. Music carries my writing process, making it so much easier. However, there’s a line between helpful and hurtful when it comes to tunes and typing. Good music will be background to the story that evolves inside my head. Becca can also attest to this. When you’ve found a great song to write to, it doesn’t influence your writing but it just allows you to keep up a momentum. It’s like the engine, but you yourself are the driver — leading the car down the different paths.

What you don’t want is for that engine to develop a brain of its own and go on auto-drive, choosing the roads for you. At least, in my experience with music and writing. I’ve had many scenes flip-flop tone once a depressing song switched on, and likewise all of a sudden my characters want to party down when an up-beat jam blares through my iPod. What?! No!

This is definitely when music can be a bad thing. I’ve learned that the hard way. So here’s some of the steps I’ve made to listening to music while I write:

  1. Only one song. That means the song will be on repeat until I suck the life from it. This eliminates any tone-jumps if the song switches. And if it’s a good writing song, then I’ll barely be listening to it while I write. Essentially it will become background noise.
  2. Instrumental songs are better. Becca actually leans towards the instrumental (no singing)  music more than me. But it helps a lot when you’re being distracted by all the singing. Plus, soundtracks and scores to movies can be highly epic to write with!
  3. Pick a song that fits the mood. If it’s a sad scene, I can’t have a party song in the background. My iPod has a majority of depressing music on it anyway, so I usually go for the somber beats.
  4. Be prepared for the aftermath. I realize this is vague, but what I mean is that writing with music can completely ruin a song. After I’ve worn out a fair share of my favorite beats, I’ll go back to them months or years later and listen again. What do I think of when I hear that song??? Yep, the book I was writing. In fact, if I start another book, writing with a previously used song is near impossible.

So those are the rules I follow. Usually I go for the softer tunes that can float away in the background. Here’s are some songs that I’ve written to and abused the repeat button far too much:

 

And here’s one of Becca’s Instrumental favorites:

Do you write with music? Do you have rules about your song choices? Or just what kind of music do you listen to? Seriously, I think I listen to everything — except country 😉

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Collaborative Writing. How We Do It.

How do you and your sister write together? We get this question every time we go to writing conferences and every time we tell someone we write books together. Collaborative writing is a different process for every pair of writers. I’ve watched interviews with Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, authors of the Beautiful Creatures series, discuss their process. To paraphrase, they basically send their book back and forth by email, and cut and add like crazy. For other writers, who do two POVs, they usually split up perspectives, so it’s a little easier.

Becca and I have a specific writing process, unique to us. Basically, one of us will write what we call the “skeleton” of the book. It’s the ugly first draft that needs so much work that it’s basically on life support. Then the second person will go in and do an intense round of edits. I’m not talking normal typos. These are edits that redefine, rework, and revive the book. This person gives it a heartbeat. Then the first author will go back in and check for flow, consistency, etc. and edit again. Then the second person goes back through for her second round of edits. And so forth, and so on, until the editing and revision are complete and we both can be proud of a book that we created together.

Notice how I didn’t designate which one of us writes the “skeleton” and which one goes in for the second round? That’s because it changes for every book. Our YA novel (currently on submission to agents) had a skeleton written by Becca and then I added all the organs and skin (I’m going to medical school–these metaphors are necessary). Our NA novel, ADDICTED TO YOU, had a skeleton written by me and Becca gave it the heartbeat.

We don’t usually have hard fast rules about who gets to write the skeleton and who gets to write second. But sometimes it comes down to whatever genre we’re writing. I’ll pass the fantasies and action-packed sci-fi’s onto Becca, since she’s better with that voice. Anything light and romance heavy is up my alley.

So there you have it. A little look into our writing process!

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