How The Experiment Came to Be

Writing The Experiment was the most unique way to write a book that any of us have as yet undertaken. When Jeff first introduced the idea that we write a collaboration, it was originally going to include the fourth member of what was then our critique group. However, she was overwhelmed at the time with work, family, and her own writing and she chose to bow out, which left us  three.

Jeff, being a writer of adult speculative fiction, and Cindy and Sherry writing young adult, seemed an almost impossibility to find something that would fit with all of us. And yet, somehow we did find that fit—a young adult speculative fiction that still has romance and mystery.

It began with Jeff giving Cindy and Sherry an outline of the story, which of course had Cindy and Sherry scratching their heads as the idea was outside of what either of them had ever done. Still, they were game and so the writing began.

Each of us chose a character: name, description, personality traits. Jeff chose Emiah, Cindy chose Cilla, and Sherry took the ever-romantic name of Juliet. Each character’s chapter is written by whoever’s character it is, meaning each chapter was written by a single author, but then added to or changed to fit not only the story, but our own character’s arc. While critiquing each other’s chapters, we would change our personal character’s dialog, mannerisms, actions, and reactions to fit our character. For example, if Cindy wrote Juliet as saying something, and Sherry didn’t think that was something Juliet would say, she would change it to her own wording. Some of the personality traits of our characters evolved throughout the writing as one person would write something about another character and we’d agree that it fit perfectly with that character. By the end of the book, we all had one another’s characters down as if we truly were siblings who knew each other that well, and very few changes were being made to the others’ chapters.

The story at times veered sharply from the original outline, which would force poor Jeff into then writing a new outline to fit in with the changing landscape of the story. The story as it is now somewhat vaguely resembles the original outline, but only that (vaguely). Even the ending is completely different thanks to a twist Jeff came up with in the middle of writing, surprising both Cindy and Sherry—pleasantly so.

One of the most challenging parts of group writing this story was coming to a consensus when we encountered obstacles. For instance, Sherry identified a huge gap in the background story (the parents’ past). We finished the story and never truly closed the loop on the background story. We spent some time batting around ideas until finally Cindy wrote a prologue that we liked and we tweaked the ending so the pieces fit.

It’s been a fun and interesting journey, and we all feel that the final product is an intense, exciting, romantic, great story that is appropriate for both young adults and adults as well.

We hope you enjoy reading The Experiment as much as we enjoyed writing it!

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