Saturday, September 24, 2022

Cooks In The Kitchen


If you've ever written a book, you know what a solitary process that can be. It's just you and those ideas in your head that you're trying to get on the page. But what happens when it's not just your ideas but someone else's? I've worked as ghostwriter on over a dozen books so I'm well aware of another set of eyes looming over my shoulder as I peck away at the keyboard. Some of my clients have been quite generous with feedback while others have given me broad latitude to interpret their vision of the work. Other gigs have been collaborate efforts with other writers, either fleshing out a new concept or in a deep revision process. Despite all the good intentions, the old proverb comes to mind: Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. 

But that hasn't been my experience. Another writer and I worked on a screenplay and after drafting the story outline, we divvied up the scenes. Afterwards, we were amazed at how well everything meshed together with little break in continuity. What helped was our empathy for the protagonist, a down-and-out goon hired to eliminate a snitch while investigating the suspicious death of his daughter in an S&M episode gone wrong. Much perviness and violence which I guess is why we were in such synch. Another collaborative venture, albeit where I worked as a ghostwriter, was on the high-tech thriller, The Natanz Directive, and again, our contributions joined seamlessly.

More recently, I was asked to collaborate in the rewrite for The Bane of Yoto. While I don't have any experience writing epic fantasy, I do understand the mechanics of dialog, character, and narrative structure. The efforts of our writing team paid off as Booklife of Publishers Weekly, gave us an A in every category.

Gritty, vividly told, pulsing with a spirit of old-school adventure, Bane of Yoto is steeped in the history and present of its genre, drawing from the pulps, comic books, video games, and—in its seamless three-author approach—shared-universe collective storytelling...All this is delivered with welcome earnest confidence, as the authors resist the temptations to wink at their readers or to overcomplicate their characters. The villains are villains, full stop, and the heroes, though often preoccupied by vengeance, fight for freedom. Readers eager for moral ambiguity should look elsewhere...

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