5 Tips for Co-Writing a Novel

Diane Callahan
10 min readMar 23, 2022

Co-written novels aren’t a new thing. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett collaborated on their fantasy novel Good Omens. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child created the technothriller series Pendergast together. John Green and David Levithan made Will Grayson, Will Grayson a young adult smash hit.

Countless authors gravitate toward the idea of bringing a creative vision to life with a fellow writer. It’s exciting! It’s invigorating!

But it can also be annoying and challenging — especially with the wrong partner.

I’ve outlined and edited dozens of collaborative novels, with one of the most recent being Limelight & Larceny, a comedy/crime novel by Jordan Riley Swan and Hero Bowen about a group of theater nerds who are trying to save their beloved theater. I had the pleasure of collecting their tips and tricks for a successful collaboration that resembles a good marriage rather than a bad breakup.

1. Choose a collaborator who shares your writing style and work ethic.

If you’re writing a novel with a dual point of view, with each of you taking a character viewpoint, then the differences in style won’t matter as much. However, if you’re trying to make the entire novel collaborative, you don’t want one person’s sparse, economical prose to clash with the other’s lush, lyrical prose.

As a literary matchmaker, I paired up Jordan and Hero because I knew — based on my experiences editing their past work individually — that they had compatible writing styles and a shared sense of humor.

Reliability is another important consideration. Can you depend on your partner to follow through and finish this thing? Will they meet the agreed-upon deadlines?

New writers might be tempted to partner up with a co-author if they’ve never finished a novel on their own. That can work. But you’re more likely to finish the project if both of you have completed a novel before. It takes discipline and consistency to get to that final page.

Given she’s a professional ghostwriter, Hero has written hundreds of novels on tight deadlines. Jordan has several novels under his belt as well, both published and unpublished. Releasing his debut romance novel The Heart’s