Writing Coherency – Co-Authorship Part Three


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Hi SE ers, The Last two posts on co-authorship covered the informal and formal elements needed for a successful co-authorship relationship and how to create a shared vision. If you missed them, you can go HERE and HERE. Today I am covering the subject of writing coherency.

Creating writing coherency (in other words making the story appear to have been written by one author) with two writers is critical. Without writing coherency, the book authored by two separate individuals will appear disjointed and confusing. Gwen and I were elated when a couple of our beta readers commented about the coherency of our story, saying that it was “seamless.” This was most encouraging. We worked towards writing coherency through three means.

1  Follow one character through the story: Our story is centered on a male character and a female character. Each of us wrote from the point of view of both characters. But once we completed the book, I took the male character, and Gwen took the female character and followed them through the entire book to ensure that the dialogue and descriptive material were consistent.

2 Edit each other’s work: As we wrote, we also edited. I tend to be big picture while Gwen is more detail-oriented. But, both vantage points are invaluable in capturing the narrative voice. We quickly got accustomed to pointing out discrepancies or loopholes and learned to laugh freely at our oversights.

3 Utilize beta reader feedback and an editor: Several beta readers read our unedited manuscript and offered a meaningful critique. Their suggestions were invaluable, and we responded to their comments in our rewrite of the story. As expected, an editor provided the final oversight, and her corrections were outstanding.

It is hoped that if the three suggestions are followed, a co-authored book will appear as if there is only one author in the final product.

Gwen will be wrapping up the Co-author discussion on February 3rd.  Given what you know now, would you consider co-authoring a book with another author? Use the comment section to let us know.



72 thoughts on “Writing Coherency – Co-Authorship Part Three

  1. Pingback: Ending the week on a positive note…. – OT Research Corner

  2. Pingback: Co-authorship Part IV: Conclusion | Story Empire

  3. Great article, John. The only co-authorship experience I had was writing a report for the state compliance review. We had one state funding from the education department that covered many areas in the schools. Each department would write a part of the report on the progress and at the end, all the parts would be put together as a single report. I remember each department read their report aloud to ensure the flow and the voice of coherency.

    It’s not easy for co-authoring creative writing. When I came across some co-authored literature, I entertained myself by asking whether I would consider co-authoring with this and that person. So far, the only person I would consider co-authoring would be my daughter. I have to go back to read the previous posts (after taking 6 weeks of break). My first thought would be that the thinking, the expression, and the writing styles must be compatible in some ways. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Coherency would definitely be important, John, and take effort to achieve. I would not co-write with someone else, especially after reading this series of posts. I think this requires a lot of effort and collaboration. Maybe one day when I’m retired and have more time, I could undertake something like this.


  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Friday 29th January 2021 – #FullMoon Joan Hall, #Poetry Robbie Cheadle, #CoAuthorship John W. Howell | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  6. It’s great that you and Gwen were able to capitalize on your strengths to improve your book. I think that working with someone of the opposite gender might offer a different and helpful perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    I know I’m running behind folks, but John Howell’s post on co-authorship is too interesting not to share with you this morning. Hope you’ll stop by to check it out and consider whether this is something you’d like to try at some point. Also hope you’ll remember to pass it along on all your favorite social media spots. Thanks, and thanks to John for laying out these steps so clearly! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very enlightening post, John, covering a subject that would totally baffle me. You’ve broken it down into steps that even I can understand, but because I depend on my characters to “co-write” my stories, I’m not sure I could work with another author. Still, I see it being done more and more today, even by some of the biggest writers out there, so I know it has merit. And you guys seem to have nailed it. Sorry I’m late to comment, but it wasn’t for lack of interest. Definitely sharing this post right now, and will share today’s SE post in a couple of hours, too. (With all apologies to Paul Anka, “Catchin’ Up is Hard to Do!”) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John, great post in this series. I agree with the use of beta readers, especially for a co-authored work. You want the writing, in most cases, to look like it was written in one voice, not two distinct authors. When I released my co-authored book, beta readers pointed out some of the differences in our writing styles that neither of us would have caught reading through what we had written. I’m going to share this over on my blog as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi,
    Even though you had beta readers and your own checks with following one character through the entire story to find the discrepancies or loopholes, I like that you had an editor. Editors are so underrated. An editor that can drift into your story and still maintain an objective mind is like a surgeon who is operating on a person’s heart. The surgeon is with his patient as he works on it but he is also outside of his patient to make sure that all the machines and the medical people assisting him or her are with him. I am glad you had a great editor. That made the difference in my opinion.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 1 person

  11. For years at work, one of my jobs was to make reports that multiple people had contributed to sound like they were written by one person. You mentioned that you “learned to laugh freely at our oversights.” I assume that means you parked your egos behind the building. I found that to be the hardest part of editing a collective effort, the fact that one or more people thought their style should be reflected in the final product. You guys did well, and I appreciate your sharing that experience with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I think coauthoring a book would be challenging but also a wonderful learning experience. Coherency is so important. If I ever attempted it, I would hope to work with an author who has a similar style and voice. Though what you and Gwen did (by taking the male / female threads and following them from start to finish) is a brilliant way to flush out anything jarring. This has been an excellent series!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Writing Coherency – Co-Authorship Part Three | Story Empire | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

  14. Well done, John. Your first point elicited chuckles, remembering back to a few of our conversations. I learned immensely through the give and take of creating a single voice for each character. Thank you for the morning smiles and the invaluable experience. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

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