Picking Up Someone Else’s Threads

Post by Cheryl Mahoney

I shared a few weeks ago about my experience writing Chapter Two of Pesto, Pirouettes and Potions, a collaborative novel with three other authors.  We’re writing it round-robin style, each writing a chapter then passing it on to the next person, and my second turn came around again recently.

I had a lot of fun reading through the five chapters we had so far, and then writing up Chapter Six.  I got into a nice flow of conversation between the characters, getting to know their dynamics a little more.  I had the chance to play with Charlie and Lola, our two heroines, and their friends Nathan, who dances in the ballet with Charlie, and Mario, Lola’s roommate.  Mario is a flirt who thinks Charlie is cute, Nathan likes to tease straight guys who assume he’s gay (he isn’t), Charlie is totally freaking out over her crush on Lola, and Lola is trying to convince herself not to crush on Charlie–so it’s awkward all around and it was so much fun to write.

This was the first chapter I wrote picking up after other people wrote theirs – I wrote Chapter Two previously, but since it was introducing Charlie (while Chapter One introduced Lola) it was pretty independent.  I really enjoyed being able to riff from things other people had written–like continuing Charlie’s tic of saying “oh goddess,” or building from a previous-chapter moment when Charlie introduced her dog.  I probably wouldn’t have thought of either element, so I loved springing off of the ideas to continue building.

My last post mentioned setting the stage for things to play out louder, possibly in chapters written by others.  For Chapter Six, I got to see the opposite side of it, continuing to build something other people started.  It’s awesome to get such great ideas to play with.

Here’s an excerpt that shows a couple ideas someone else created continuing to grow in my chapter!


Was this whole business, stalking the Pilates classes, showing up at brunch, going too far?  Was Charlie building way too much on one charged exercise class, and one not-quite-a-date?

But it had been such a good sort of date.  It had been a long time since she’d felt a connection like that.  And Sammy had liked Lola—who had understood his name.  Charlie only introduced him as Samwise when she wanted to see if someone would catch the reference, pick up the semi-secret code she was sending out.  And Lola hadn’t just asked about Lord of the Rings, she had asked Sammy if he was a Hobbit.  So adorable.

Oh goddess, she had it bad.


We Meet Again

Blog Post by Karen Blakely

It’s interesting, to have four authors writing a story about two main characters. Two writers are sharing Lola, the chef, and two of us are sharing Charlie, the ballerina. I like Charlie. Among other things, she’s tough, graceful, vegan, into herbal remedies – and she’s lonely.

Because I need to know my character before I start writing, I touched base with my Charlie compatriot a couple times. We decided on a few external features and some of the more critical internal truths for Charlie. That’s one of my favorite things; finding out who my character really is and understanding how they’re going to react to the world around them.

Charlie is intrigued by Lola. Maybe nothing would have come of their first brief encounter, but they end up running into each other the next morning. That was my job in Chapter Four. To get them back together and into a Pilates class.

Continue reading “We Meet Again”