There are many different ways to write a book

Some writers are lucky enough to have a story in them, a story that is just ready and waiting to be told, but for others, it isn’t always that simple. I mention this because it happens like that for me. Sometimes an idea is just that – an idea – and it stays like that for a very long time, no matter how big it ends up getting! I just have no idea how to shape it. Often my head feels like it’s got one big question mark in it.

You see what I mean? What I can find particularly difficult are the mechanics of the story. The twists and turns.  I mention this because, if it happens to you, it can sometimes help to consider collaborating with another writer. One person’s idea might inspire others from another. For me, collaborating is a natural extension of how I work. My ‘training’ into writing – ie before I came an author – was as an editor and a lot of that job is a collaboration, but I digress…

As you may remember, I collaborated on my new series, Dinosaur Land with another GHB author, Linda Chapman. For this project I sent Linda an initial idea. She added to it, I added some more, and we went back and forth between us until we had a proposal. We were lucky in that we had both worked together before and trusted each other. We also have the same agent, but the important thing is that we didn’t give each other any hard and fast rules. We wrote the books one-on, one-off but there is no right or wrong way to write a book. There are many different ways to work a collaboration. One person out of the two might be better equipped to write all of the books. Or you might even come up with something and write it together – one chapter at a time, one by one! I mention all this because it really can be a very rewarding way of working. And you don’t even need to live anywhere near each other either to do it either. Here’s a picture of me at my desk. And of Linda at hers (looking a lot more glamorous than me, I hasten to add!)

We live at opposite ends of the country (well not quite, but you know what I mean!) Anyway, let me know if any of you might be considering collaborating. If you have any questions, I would love to answer them. Happy writing!

38 thoughts on “There are many different ways to write a book

  1. I tried to write a story with a girl once, but my ideas were totally different from hers. I suppose that I like working on my own. I am quite a bossy and opinionated person and I like things to be done my way.
    (No, I am not a monster just to clarify)
    Apart from that I think that when authors collaborate it is cool. Two peoples styles of writing clash with each other and make the story better
    Kate x

    • Hi Kate
      Thanks for posting! You definitely have to find the right person to collaborate with but I like writing on my own too. You don’t sound a monster at all! Happy writing!
      Michelle x

  2. I’d LOVE to write with someone, i think it would be so fun! 🙂

    LOVE both of the picture of you and Linda. AMAZING, just like imagined. (minus the magical powers, like Lindas Stardust Spirits.)

    • I bet i could do you proud, anyone who’d like to write with me. ❤ Yes i'm 22 but, i have the brain of a 14 year old. (no joke)

  3. Hi Laura
    Thanks for posting for me again! I’m glad that I am how you imagined me! Happy writing and collaborating!
    Michelle x

  4. I agree it’s good fun, co writing, since writing is a lonely business. But sometimes you can have ‘creative differences’ and fall out – so be careful! I have collaborated a lot with people in kids TV, where I have worked on Angelina Ballerina, Chuggington, the Hoobs, Shaun the Sheep etc. You work with script editors and producers and have regular writers’ brainstorming days. I have co written plays and scripts but I have never co- written a book, I can’t imagine doing it. I am about to put a TV proposal together with the author of a well known book series and I am looking forward to working with her. There are many different ways you can collaborate with people, and I think scripts and plays are best cos it’s kind of ‘externalised’ writing. I think for a successsful writing partnership people have to be evenly matched in terms of ability and experience.By the way Michelle, do you know Mellie Buse? Isn’t she fab!

    • Hi Lucy
      Thanks for posting! Yes, I remember the lovely Mellie. I worked with her on Charlie and Lola! I also know your name, though we’ve never met, as you were always being suggested for things at Working Partners (where I was an editor for a couple of years). I don’t know if you ever did anything for them in the end. Hope your TV proposal works out and that we meet one day!

  5. I agree, there are no right or wrong ways to write a book. And collaboration is a fun way to do it! My friend and I write books together, where I write one chapter, she writes the next chapter, then me, then her, and so on. We take it in turns. Like what you and Linda do! For characters, I invent a person with description and my friend invents 2 more people, and we make a story with them, together! It is great fun! We both want to be successful writers together, be partners forever and stick together through thick and thin. 🙂

  6. After reading this post I will not feel that lonely in the feeling! Collaboration when styles matches seems a perfect, cheap and fun solution! thanks (from Argentina)

  7. Hi Michelle,

    Great post. I had a story idea that took me two years to convert into a book then another eighteen months before it was published. It was worth it in the end – even if I was starving in my garret meantime 😉


    • Hi Julie
      Thank you for posting. What’s it called? I would like to read it. Anything that took that long to craft and left you hungry must be good!
      Michelle xx

      • It was a picture book called That Pesky Dragon, illustrated by the amazing Melanie Williamson. I got the idea from a little boy at a Christmas panto. Remind me to tell you the full story.


    • Hi Lilah
      I bet if you asked around you would find someone who would write with you. Don’t give up! It’s really worth it!
      Michelle x

  8. Ooooh, I couldn’t collaborate! I’m awful at group work, I’m WAY too bossy! i love reading books by two different authors though, especially if it’s told from alternate points of view, and each author writes a different chapter, you know? i find that really interesting and fun to read!

    • Hi Cliona
      Your post made me laugh! It’s always good to know your limitations! Glad you enjoy reading them though!
      Michelle x

  9. I like writing on my own, but most of my ideas get jumbled up and I either don’t know haw to write them down or I forget them 😦 so sad lol
    Which is why I want to ask, What is the best way to keep your ideas in your head and to never forget them!!! It seems kind of obvious but I want to see what you do 🙂 great post happy writing xx 🙂

    • Hi Sophie
      I always carry a notebook with me in my bag. That way, when I have an idea, I write it down. Before I was a writer, I was an editor and I was working with this quite well-known author. She told me that she used to write ideas down and post them into a piggy bank. Just one line snippets. They were often things that she saw in a newspaper – for example – cat got stuck in drainpipe. Then she would pull them all out 6 months or a year later and somehow she would fit them all together and a storyline would arise. I thought that was really interesting.
      Michelle x

  10. HI MIchelle,
    I’m hoping to write a book with the lovely JUdi Curtin from this site – we have started something all right . . . Reading your blog made me want to get stuck in right away! We both have projects to finish up but some day soon.
    Good luck with your writing.
    Best, SarahX

    • Hi Sarah
      I am so so pleased that my blog made you want to get stuck in right away. It makes it all worthwhile!
      Good luck too with your writing.
      Michelle x

  11. Hi Michelle!

    Co-writing is fun-I’m writing a story with my two besties, Shakira and Fatima at the moment! It’s called five seconds to live…or die. It’s getting to be quite good. We work on it like this: Shakira writes a part, then Fatima writes a part, then I write a part, then we put all three parts together, and polish it off, adding extra details or other stuff-I normally do the punctuation part!

    I like writing independently as well, especially when I have a great idea, and I don;t want anyone to copy it. But I normally let people copy bits of homework when I know they understand it, they just haven’t had enough time to work it out.

    Great post!

    • Hi Hikma
      It’s great to see you on here again. Thank you for posting. It’s really good to hear how other people do their collaborating. I also like writing independently – although it’s much harder work!

  12. Fab post, Michelle. And for anyone who doesn’t know her face to face, Michelle is way more glamorous than me! From my point of view, it’s brilliant working with another writer. I write or have written with Michelle, Lee Weatherly and Steve Cole. It’s different with whoever I am writing with. Steve and I wrote alternate scenes but that was in a longer book with four strong main characters. With shorter books it seems to work better brainstorming the story lines together and then writing alternate books. You do need to really get on with the person you are writing with though and have mutual respect so you don’t upset or defensive if the other one wants to change things. I admire all my other co-writers massively and so if they suggest a change 99% of the time I will accept it and change things. I like writing on my own too, but writing with someone else when it works well is the best fun ever! Lxx

    • Ha ha, that’s kind of you to say, but I don’t think so!

      Here’s to many more projects together, team mate.
      Michelle xx

  13. I find I have hundreds of ideas but just dont have the motivation to get beyond the first chapter. I can precis the storyline no porblem, I know what I want to write and what is going to happen but when it comes to actuallly completing a story I just lose enthusiasm! Is there such a thing as a “fairweather writer”? cos if there is, I’m definitely it. I think collaborating on a tv series or book adpation for tv would be the most interesting – I’d love to do that!

    • Hi Frances
      Completing a story can be the hardest bit. I always write a breakdown of the story for myself before I start so that I know where I am going with it. I generally hit a wall at around two thirds of the way through but I know that if I get through this point I will make it to the end. I love writing endings, you see. So you could say I’m a fairweather writer too too!
      Michelle x

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  15. Hey! Sorry, I just saw this post now :/ I’ve been so busy lately!
    But, about “collaborating”, me and my best friend, we do this all the time. I mean, all the time I can’t develop my ideas, so she come to my house, or I go to hers, and we start to talk. Suddenly, my problem is solved haha

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