Solitary by Necessity


Solitary by Necessity: By definition, writing fiction must be a solitary affair. When it comes to non-fiction, a collaboration between writers is possible, often highly desirable.

In this case, two heads are better than one when it comes to the necessary amount of research required. Whereas the very idea of attempting to co-write a work of fiction with another writer leaves much to be desired. It only ever works in the arenas of film and television, where a team of scriptwriters brainstorm and throw ideas for specific situations into the mix.

Solitary by Necessity - Handlebar-Moustache-copyright-2013-Kristin-FouquetWhy could it never work with writing fictional books? Could it simply be down to a clash of personalities? I don’t think so; I believe it goes much deeper than that. Any writer of fiction worth their salt will tell you that coming up with that fresh storyline is akin to bringing a new-born into the world. It first appears as a vague notion in your mind, which slowly develops as time goes by.

As you begin writing, it gradually advances from the embryo stage. Like any prospective parent, you jealously guard and nurture it as it grows. So the very idea of sharing that idea with another writer, expecting them to feel that same way about it, let alone using your ‘voice’ because you are the originator, simply does not compute. The idea is yours and yours alone. Therefore you must always be the one to see it through to completion.

As far as books go there is only one area in fiction writing where any form of collaboration appears to work successfully, and that is in the field of short story anthologies. But even then, each tale is written by a solitary writer, so it’s still not true collaboration.

Having said all this, I do know of one recent example where two fiction writers worked on one project together. Whether or not their brave, some might say foolish, decision to collaborate, will be justified is now down to the reading public’s acceptance of the book in question. After all, as writers, we are all aware of just how fickle, nay contrary, the reading public can be at times.

  1. Avatar of Daphne Shapiro
    Daphne Shapiro says

    Very interesting article, mr. Eason.
    Your view on collaborating authors in non-fiction made me think immediately of O Jerusalem by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre. Just when I thought I knew something about the period of Israel’s independance, this book was an eye opener for me, and an absolute recommendation for any one interested in Middle East history. Thank you for phrasing it this way. It makes sense to me.

  2. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    Thank you for commenting Daphne. I;m glad you have proved me wrong. Although the collaboration you mention is only the second one that I now know of. 🙂

  3. Avatar of Ishmael Brathwaite
    Ishmael Brathwaite says

    Jack sorry to rain on your parade.

    Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo wrote the very successful Martin Beck detective series. “Q’’ novel was written by Luther Blisset – four Italian writers working under the name of a British footballer, ( made for some very funny interviews). Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, who wrote Mote in Gods eye and The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and R.A.Wilson. That’s off the top of my head.

    However these are the exceptions that prove your point.

    So may I doff my hat in your general direction for such a good article and also one that is so thought provoking.

  4. Avatar of Jack Eason
    Jack Eason says

    Thank you Ishmael for reading and commenting. One thing I’m sure you will agree on are the low numbers of collaborations, plus how few of them are successful in the tough world of words. 😉

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