5 ways to stay happily married while writing together.
“How are we going to kill him?” I asked my husband, Brian, over lunch at Jason’s Deli. It was a sunny day in Georgia and we were rewriting Mind of the Beast. Looking back on those early days, I’m surprised no one called the cops on us. We were, after all, plotting a murder.
We have some interesting arguments. While heated at times, they don’t put a strain on our marriage. But like every other aspect of marriage, they take work and sometimes the right tools. Here’s how we do it.
Planning your story together prevents the feeling you aren’t being heard before a single word is written. Scrivener is a godsend for this. It’s a writing tool that allows you to organize your plot, your characters, and all your research.
Scrivener’s best feature is the digital corkboard. You write a brief sentence or two on an index card for each scene. Then you flip it over and write the scene. You can move around the index cards until they make sense or delete scenes that don’t work. After you’re done writing the scenes, it compiles it to a file for you to publish.
Always Track Changes
Brian writes the first rough draft and then transfers it into MS Word because Scrivener doesn’t track changes in their window’s version. Scrivener 3 for iOS has it, but we’re impatiently waiting for the Scrivener 3 for Windows version.
I always track the changes and make comments. We already agreed to the plot, so the changes are usually how someone says something or how it’s described, especially the fight scenes. I watched Captain America’s fight scenes in The Avengers over a dozen times to see how a building crumbles when he’s thrown against it, because our character, Nick St. James, can withstand that kind of ass-kicking. Even with all the work that I do to prepare for the rewrite, nothing changes unless Brian agrees. The same goes when Brian does a rewrite.
Writing is excruciating, and that’s on a good day. So, why would I want my husband of all people to rewrite my work? Because we each have our own strengths to bring to the book and we each have common goals. Brian is much better at seeing the big picture and consequences of the character’s actions than I am. His 25 years of game design also helps with making the reader feel like they are part of the story. My strength is visualizing action scenes and character development.
Can’t Agree, Come Up with Something New
Sometimes you can’t agree. This is the time to figure out another option. There is always another option. Some of the best ideas in Mind of the Beast came after neither of us agreed and had to find something new.
Have Your Own Characters
Fay, the librarian and Norse Goddess Frigg, is Brian’s character. She’s Odin’s wife and Thor’s stepmom. Fay has had to live powerless for over millennia after people stopped worshipping Norse gods and goddesses. But, after the Thor movies, people started thinking about Frigg and Fay regained some of her lost abilities. Deities and other supernatural characters’ realities are based on popular beliefs in our series.
Felix is a D&D playing vampire morgue attendant. He drinks tainted blood from addicts to deal with his anxiety disorder. I was positively gleeful when I wrote about his meltdown, when his morgue turned into a forest after a forest god died.
Having his and her characters gives us ownership and freedom. As long as they don’t interfere with the plot, we can make whatever changes we want to them.
Writing with your spouse is never easy, but can be a rewarding experience. Scrivener made it much easier.