15.36: Collaboration, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guests Shannon and Dean Hale

We’ve had several discussions about collaboration, and we’ve learned that the answer to “how do you collaborate with other authors” is different with each collaboration team we talk to.

Shannon and Dean Hale have written fifteen books together, and in this episode they talk to us about how they do it.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson


“Picture-word” game, which you kind of need to listen to Dean describe.

Kind of a Big Deal, by Shannon Hale

4 thoughts on “15.36: Collaboration, with Shannon and Dean Hale”

  1. I’m going to search the archives for other collab discussions to see what those had to say. There are few articles or books on writing collaboratively and those I have read or podcasts I have heard–let’s just say I get the impression that they gloss over the difficulties of writing calaboratively. Even in this episode I didn’t get the sense from the talk there was anything especially difficult they found about writing collaboratively (which is wonderful if for them it truly is that easy!).

    So either I’m just very difficult compared to other people (possible) or people who write collaboratively aren’t coming clean about the travails of doing so because I simply can’t believe it’s all sunshine and roses. LOL!

    This episode touched on it very briefly, but one thing I have learned the hard way is that even if one writer doesn’t usually outline, you both have to agree to outline for the book or you go in endless circles. (been there, done that)

    I am working with someone on a book now and even technology (we don’t live in the same town) has been an issue. We’ve finally come up with a solution–a shared Google doc and cell phones on speaker phone (Zoom didn’t work out). It’s also a problem when we’re developing either main or secondary characters and have different visions for those characters. Or one of us is totally gung ho on a character and the other writer just can’t see it. When my collaborator and I get to the actual point of writing chapters, I think THAT part will be a little bit easier. But brainstorming and plotting out a story in 2 different writers’ heads is EXTREMELY difficult. But we will overcome! 8-)

    1. I think this discussion is heavily colored by survivorship bias, i.e. the only opinions about collaboration you see are from the people for whom it worked. People who tried and failed to collaborate aren’t going to have much to say on the topic, so their experiences aren’t heard. So I think it’s entirely possible that everyone you’ve heard talk about collaboration has been totally honest about how easy it was for them, but those are the people who made it through the process successfully.
      Good luck with your collaborative work!

  2. This week, the truncated trio, just Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, tackled collaboration with Shannon and Dean Hale. From the process of collaboration to walks around the lake, work time and slippery children, how a screenplay may improve the story, and what makes better collaboration (hints: no ego, enough time, and explaining, explaining, explaining), there’s a lot of useful discussion available in the transcript now in the archives.

Comments are closed.