Candice: If you had been sat near Phil and I in Costa Coffee in Henley in Arden on Monday you might have wondered what was going on. We’d had a disjointed meet up as it was – the first coffee house we’d gone to informed us that they were closing in an hour. Ah, we thought, as I am on a drive to use local places, not chains, bang goes that idea.
So a quick cuppa in there and then down to the Costa, which was full of people with laptops (or having loud conversations with HMRC which is another story). After an hour of writing, plus some coffee and cookie-fueled help, we passed our laptops over to see what each other had written.
I’d been focusing on the earlier story in the book. My job recently has been to go back and check on what we have written: facts, continuity, stuff like that. Phil has been very focused on one pivotal scene mid-book which pushes us towards the big finish.
Having read Phil’s scene there was one thing I wasn’t sure about. Would it actually happen like that? I quizzed him. He explained his thoughts. But I still sat there going – ‘so what?’.
I know this is fiction but I don’t want something to be so glaring that it makes someone step out of the book and then lose their ability to suspend disbelief. Saoirse Ronan had done that for me the other week as she chatted on Graham Norton about ‘Mary – Queen of Scots’. A scene in the film shows Mary and Queen Elizabeth meeting – something that didn’t happen in real life. I assume the writer wanted to bring out things that had been conveyed in their letters and this was the easiest way to do it on film. However, when I watched the film yesterday I sat there at that point in the film thinking to myself ‘this didn’t happen.’ It ruined to ending of a good film for me.
So for ten minutes, I pushed him on his logic, asking why the characters were doing what they were doing. The man behind us in his business suit was doing his level best to pretend he was concentrating on his laptop but when we mentioned Councillor I’m sure he twitched.
We got there in the end, but I’m sure Phil wondered why I’d got such a bee in my bonnet. Well, its got to make sense. Else its just going to annoy me and the readers – that’s why.
Phil: This story illustrates why we can write as a team so well.
I tend to let the story flow when writing the first draft, but having presented the words to my mate and been quizzed about the direction I was taking, we beat the idea about a bit. Eventually, I managed to work out where the story should be going in reasonable detail.
Having a sounding board is really useful and we’re pretty good at fulfilling this role for each other. It helps that we can both take a bit of criticism without flouncing off in a huff. It certainly saves time because we don’t need the re-writes you have to go through when working on your own when realising bits of the story don’t hang together.