YES, this is our actual book!!!
So, I keep promising to write this, and finally it’s time ((Ohh, exciting cannot wait. Said no-one, anywhere, ever))
I’d only been part of the Fosseway Writing Group for a short time, and when it was suggested by the Chair, Nick, that we attempt a collaboration, I was predictably very excited and then panicked as I would be writing alongside fabulous writers ((you are not worthy!)) quite Brackets. But, I’ve never let a challenge pass me by, which is exactly why I broke my hip doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks ((life story alert, next she will be banging on about her skydive… again – boring!!)) I’d never done anything like this before, but part of joining any group, is not to only to make friends, and learn about the mystery life of writing, editing and all things booky, but about challenging myself.
Sorry, Brackets but I’m going to have to mute you for this bit, so you don’t break the flow…
So, our story is about a school reunion – we had the freedom to come up with a character. It was quickly decided that we needed a general story/event for everyone to focus on. One of the authors uploaded her story early on, which focused on two characters and a lot of the other writers’ used this as the focal point for their story.
Ideally, you don’t want too many story arcs. I know people like GRRM do this, but he writes epic novels and lots of them. We only have one novel to fit it all in. It’s important that readers don’t get confused by all the different stories, so if you can focus on a few storylines it helps to keep it all running smoothly.
I think it’s wise to minimise the number of writers. There are still plenty of jobs that need doing to involve everyone in the group. Some of the group were too busy to commit to writing – this is very important to establish early on. There is a lot of work involved and we met approx. 5 times, sometimes on a Saturday to go through the story. We didn’t want to take up all the normal writing group evenings discussing the reunion book
Once we‘d finished our stories, it was sent to two of the writers to edit. They then forwarded them all to Nick and I to put in some kind of order. This proved a bigger job than I thought. I would say I spent approx. 4 full days on this alone. As there are eight writers’ it’s difficult to get the chapter orders right, as the reader can end up waiting a long time before they are introduced to all of the characters. We also wanted to make sure the reader didn’t forget the story arc for that character.
Once this was completed it was sent out to all the authors again for them to read and offer feedback on changes, before forwarding onto two of the writing group members that had offered to be beta readers. It’s important to have readers that do not know the story, and haven’t been part of it, so they can give you an unbiased and honest opinion. By this point you’re so sick of reading it and believe that your writing is so terrible you might as well give up – but you cannot as it means letting others down.
After quite a few more tweaks by Nick, it was uploaded to Amazon and the proof copies ordered. Once received we all read it again, and any errors identified were uploaded to the forum and Nick made the changes. So, now we have THE BOOK ready and out in the real world.
If you are thinking of tackling a collaboration with your group, I would suggest the following points to hopefully make it easier once you’ve got your general story arc and characters started;
• I would recommend arranging at least 5 meetings in advance. You can always cancel them if you don’t need them. Obviously, things happen and people cannot make some dates. But if you can all get together it will help to iron out any issues, it’s much easier than doing via email.
• Our writing group has an online forum, which I would highly recommend using. Great way of communicating. We uploaded our chapters for the group to get feedback, ask questions and shared ideas about the storyline etc. I think it would have been a much longer process if we hadn’t had this.
• I would say try and allow at least two – three months for editing and final tweaking. Then once you’ve ordered the proof copies aim for another month to read before making it live to the world.
These are just my thoughts on the project. Overall I really enjoyed it, and it has brought the group closer together ((That’s a shame I thought you would all end up having a massive fight and being on the local news. Fosseway Writers’ kick-off after one of the writers’ kills off everyone in the group. Something like that! Would have totally made your book famous. Or book goes on to make millions and one by one the members’ die… who will be left to take the royalties…)) Your sick imagination is worse than mine Brackets!! It does so happen that another collaboration has been mentioned… with a bit of a darker theme…
I hope this has been helpful to any groups thinking of working on a collaboration. Feel free to ask myself or the writing group any questions. We are still friends’ ((That’s what you think!!)) Nick has written a much more interesting piece about how it all came about. I will try and link to this, if not, find it at his WordPress account:
Finally, here is the link to our book available as an eBook or paperback.
See you in a month 😊
P.S quick note on what’s happening with my writing at the moment. Mostly the same as last blog; but progress being made on them all…
Submissions are in for my Thriller novel – so waiting to hear
Christmas Novella has been edited and received back so I need to action the edits etc.
Travel Journal – first read/through edit nearly done. Meeting an illustrator soon to discuss the cover – exciting
22k into a Children’s fantasy novel.
Writing group book: Done and published!!!
Here are some reviews for the book…which are very exciting
This book was written by eight authors. That’s quite an ambitious undertaking, and they pulled it off. The story is cohesive, and they did an excellent job of blending all the narratives together into one seamless read.
The story starts with a few characters talking about tragic incidents that occurred in 1992. This serves as a backstory for the bulk of the narrative, which takes place 25 years later at a class reunion. Eight authors resulted in eight main characters, and the chapters alternate according to the point of view.
It was interesting to see the different perspectives on events as well as each other. Each of the main characters is well rounded with compelling emotional depth and a full backstory. Some have grown since graduation. Some are stuck in the past. Some are vengeful and catty. Some are forgiving of old hurts. There was anger, sweetness, bravery, kindness, and disgust.
Aside from the eight main characters, there are probably twenty or more secondary characters that pop in and out of the reunion. They added to an already full backstory with details that, to some extent, slowed the narrative. That said, they certainly added to the feel of a large group coming together after years apart.
Though this is a character-driven read, there is an underlying volatility that hints at coming danger, which indeed plays out at the end. All in all, a successful effort and worthwhile read. It made me sort of glad I never attended a school reunion. Recommended.
Congratulations on your excellent collaborative novel, ‘Burning Old School Ties’.
To take on such a project must have been both exciting and daunting. To draw together the writings of eight authors to make a cohesive, flowing and believable story must have been fraught with difficulties but you have done it wonderfully well.
I found the characters interesting and varied whilst the threading together of their contributions to the story-line was cleverly achieved. I was impressed with the way in which characters ‘interacted’ with each other – proof of the collaborative nature of the novel.
I felt drawn into the events of the night as the tension was subtly and creatively increased.
There must have been times when you wondered what you had got yourselves into but the evidence of your diligence and perseverance is there for all to see. Well done!
You’ve set a high standard. What will you do next?