*Lightbulb* aka The HWYS Moment concept

(Edited from a Sept. 2010 post at my Live Journal to eliminate some NCIS-ishness)

There was a great Slate article I stumbled upon today about how creativity is best in pairs, not solo. The dynamic of collaboration produces better work than either person could produce on his/her own. Sadly, the other point is that generally one half of the duo is more recognized than the other.

The author pointed to the connectivity the Internet enables as one of the drivers of this shift in thinking, which I completely agree with. Kyrie and I have worked together for about a decade now. When I first started writing, we would chat on AIM and e-mail files back and forth for editing. When I started writing my first novel, I wrote it on my own, then she had to come in after and try to turn it into something decent. It was too late — I’d gone too far off the rails — and after fighting with the darn thing for months, I gave up and stopped writing for a few years.

I finally got back into writing in March, and about halfway through that novel-length story, Kyrie came along for the ride. The difference from 10 years ago was that cloud computing (Google Docs rock!) allowed us to be in the file at the same time, writing and editing and brainstorming. It’s the perfect tool for us to work together to make the stories the best they can be. Kyrie always says I do the hard work of writing — she just polishes it up. But she underestimates her impact because most of the time when she has questions, it makes me reason stuff out in my head and a lightbulb pops on and the end result is much better than when I first started writing.

In the NCIS S7 DVD extras, Jesse Stern talks about how when he started working on Truth or Consequences, he had the end line of Act 3 (Tony: “So, how was your summer?”) in his head and he needed to build the first part of the story so it set up that moment. Since then, I’ve been thinking of building stories around what I call the HWYS moment, and the concept has made a big difference in the way I structure stories and how they come together. I’ve told Jesse that if I get my novels published it will be in large part because of what I’ve learned from him, and this is one of the biggest pieces.