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[GUEST POST] Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes on Writing as a Team

Margaret Weis is the internationally bestselling author of The Dragonlance Chronicles, Darksword Trilogy, and The Deathgate Cycle. She lives in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

Robert Krammes is a game designer and the general manager at Aztec Video Productions. He is the author of the Dragon Brigade Series along with Margaret Weis. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Writing As A Team

by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes

ROBERT: I’m often asked, “How do you and Margaret write together?” The simple answer is, “Margaret is the primary writer and I am the primary world builder”. In truth, there’s is a lot more to it than that!

MARGARET: I have worked with coauthors for over thirty years and I really enjoy the process of sharing thoughts and ideas about a book. I am the primary writer because that is what I bring to the partnership. It’s important to me that the novel has one voice. If two people are writing, using different styles, the shift from one to the other can cause the reader to start paying more attention to who’s writing what than the story itself.

ROBERT: I created the framework for the world of Aeronne — the geography, the sociopolitical structures, how magic works, etc. In our initial conversations, Margaret and I decided we wanted to try something different from the medieval fantasy world. We decided on a world of magic and muskets, floating palaces and court intrigue, dragons and demons, priests and swashbuckling action. A world where continents are suspended on God’s Breath and magic is all pervasive.

MARGARET: Bob developed the world of Aeronne and we both mulled over the initial plot; work that involved lots of phone calls, text messages, and emails. After several months, we had a plot line, major characters, a world structure complete with history, a magic system and a “scientific” theory of how land masses float and sailing ships remain airborne. I wrote the sixty page synopsis of the first book, Shadow Raiders, and sent it to our editor. We then set to work.

ROBERT: The old quote goes: no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. It can also be said that no plot ever survives contact with the writing! Our plot’s seamless structure turned out to be riddled with holes big enough for a dragon to fly through.

MARGARET: Little things send your plot careening off the rails. You suddenly realize when you look at the map that a journey the heroes need to make in four hours will take them four weeks. And if you alter the map to suit the time line, the rest of the plot comes crashing down around your ears. In these instances, it’s really great to have someone you can call to say, “Help! It’s not working!”

ROBERT: As to the process of writing, since we each live in different states, this is the way that works for us. Margaret writes several chapters, then emails them to me. She will often add notes for me such as: “describe how the magical pistol works” or “tell how wyverns pull a carriage”. I read them over, suggest changes, add my part. My work then goes back to Margaret, who does a complete rewrite of the entire book that incorporates all the changes we’ve made throughout the process. The rewrite comes to me (and my wife, Mary!) for a final read-through and then goes off to our editor.

MARGARET: Every team of writers has a different way of working. My daughter, Lizz Baldwin Weis, and I would work on our books over a bottle of Saki at a Japanese restaurant. Tracy Hickman used to say that I wrote the nouns, he wrote the verbs and we voted on the adjectives! No matter how you work, every team will have disagreements; that’s human nature. What’s important is that each person respects the other person’s point of view. Respect — the foundation for any partnership.

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