Monday, May 20, 2013

Writing Round Robin

by Annette Lyon

If there's anything that writing something a extensive as the Newport Ladies Book Club has taught the four of  us, it's how to write differently. We've set aside our typical ways of writing and plotting and learned from each other as we've come up entirely new ways of writing as we've collaborated on the series.

The second set of books (about Shannon, Victoria, Ilana, and Ruby), are already written, and as Josi mentioned recently, some this set will have some changes, including titles that are more than the characters' names.

We're now in the stage of drafting the long-promised reunion book, which has been a total blast . . . in yet a totally different way.

Picture this: The reunion book (as yet untitled), will be written by all four series authors. And it will feature all eight book club members, showing  where they've traveled since we last saw them, and where they end up.

All in one book.

(Daunting, no? A little bit!)

I know that with Daisy and Paige not ending all tied up in pretty bows, readers are eager to learn where they end up. I have a feeling that when readers see the next set of books, they'll have similar questions about some of the other characters, too.

Because the reunion book is totally different than the series itself, we needed a new way of working on it.

We started out by meeting together one day and hammering out an outline that included the entire arc for each character and how the different characters interact and influence each other. The challenge: Finding a way to resolve all eight stories in a short space in a way that will feel organic and satisfying rather than overwhelming and chaotic to the reader.

By the end of that first day, we'd taken a ton of notes, and, I think, had a solid game plan for creating an awesome final volume.

Up next came actually writing the book, which is in progress but moving right along. The master file began with Heather as she began the book with a chapter about Athena. Then she passed it on to the next person, and the next, and the next, round-robin style. Each writer edits and comments on the chapters that came before to help polish them up and  maintain consistency in timeline and plot, and then they move forward with  drafting the next chapter of their character's story before passing the file on to the author in charge of the next chapter's main character.

Each chapter begins with the name of the character it focuses on, and those chapters are written by the same authors of the original books about those characters. (So I write the chapters about Paige and Ilana, and Josi writes about Daisy and Shannon, and so on.)

By the time we're done with the round-robin drafting phase, we should have a solid book that's already been revised on some level three or four times.

It's so much fun to be working on these stories, especially after looking back over the years and seeing what a long way this project has come, from a germ of an idea back in 2008 to a series that will have nine total volumes.

I am continually amazed at what we've accomplished working as a team, and with the reunion book, we're once again writing something unique in a way totally new to us.

I'm excited for the end product, and I'm positive readers will come away happy with where their favorite characters ended up!


  1. So you post this during MY week, when I'm supposed to be writing the next chapter. LOL :-)

    It is a really fun way to write, and I wish I could do all of my books this way. Imagine writing a chapter, turning it over to someone else, then a few weeks later, you get the book back and there's another 75 pages magically written. So cool!

  2. Totally spaced that we actually had a schedule and an order! So don't post this week. :)

  3. No, I meant that you posted this during the week that it's my turn to write the chapter... as a nudge and "get to work Heather" ... but I was just teasing. I think Josi is the only one staying on track with the schedule. LOL!

  4. we have a schedule????? Why do you guys keep me around?

  5. Thank you all so much for writing these books, and I am thrilled to hear about the ninth book. I am avid fan of all four of you, and I love reading serialized works. In fact, my husband cringes every time I mention going to DeseretBook. It's not so much as the money I spend (although that is a factor), but it is about 'where am I going to keep all these books?!?!' I simply ignore him, and keep on reading. Keep up the good work - maybe someday I'll get up the gumption to write one of my own, but until then, keep 'em coming!!!