One of the first questions we are asked when we say that we write together as a couple is “How do you do it?” The simple answer is: together! Here is a picture of our computer setup (complete with our feline critic).
My wife and I (M.) sit in our own chairs, and usually, I have the keyboard (what can I say? I have control issues). Then we work through each scene together with each giving input into the writing. Often I start typing the sentences with B. critiquing my grammar and style. We typically work in the evenings once the kids have gone to bed for 2-3 hours, though during crunch times, we also will work on the book in the mornings and weekends.
And then, of course, we talk. And talk. And talk… until our kids are almost tired of hearing us planning out our story. For every hour of writing, we probably have two hours of conversation while we are driving to the store or to church or getting ready for work, eating dinner, cleaning, etc.
Just like in marriage, communication, time, and patience with one another are the keys. We have both learned to hold to our writing loosely as we have both had to see some treasured descriptions or conversations be sacrificed for the sake of the overall flow and direction of the story. It can be tense at times as we cut favorite scenes and even characters. But we each recognize the need to tell the story that God has given us, and sometimes scenes distract from the greater story.
We also recognize that together we are far better writers than when we are apart. I (M.) am generally stronger when it comes to descriptions, prose, and flow. I can visualize a scene, and I have a strong desire for accuracy and fidelity in the story. I even have made spreadsheets for keeping track of calendars, weather patterns, distances traveled, and other boring stuff.
B.’s strength comes in the dialog and the characters. She has the better feel for the cadence and speaking styles of the characters (except for Lu, whose way of speaking appeals to my more flowery style of writing). She also keeps us on task with the overall plot and makes sure we actually make progress when I start getting bogged down trying to get every word perfect.
Without B., I would be lucky to finish a chapter, let alone a book, but I am able to rework B.’s great ideas into a more compelling narrative that has better flow and style. Honestly, I am generalizing a lot here and maybe overstating some things. Our strengths and weaknesses overlap quite a lot so that it is really hard to see where one begins and the other ends at times. All we know is that when we work together the result turns out pretty well!
And under-girding all of this is our common faith in God. We know that there is a deeper purpose behind what we are doing that motivates and propels us through the hard times both in writing and in life. We are both pursing knowing God more fully and intimately, and that has continually upheld us throughout our fifteen years of marriage. God knew what He was doing when He brought the two of us together, and it is a thrill to see where God is taking us on this new adventure of writing.