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Twin Authors. How to Write Novels in Tandem

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Classical aesthetics cherishes the image of a self-contained author who expresses himself by creating a work of art. This definition is markedly challenged by authors who create their work in co-operation with a congenial partner. Twin authors are a rare phenomenon but they show that it is possible to split up a literary project and to write novels in tandem. In 1997 I approached some joint authors, questioning them on their common experience, on the distribution of their work load and the harmonisation of the style and content of their novels, as well as the individual steps of production. The material I accumulated was complemented by investigations on late writers such as the brothers Goncourt and the double author Ellery Queen.

The project made it evident that twin authors display a number of common features which are characteristic of their trade. All authors asked reported that writing in tandem required a pervasive internal harmony and mutual calculability. A close personal relationship appears to be vital, in the sense that the partners complement each other in their skills and views. When they assemble the material for their plots, most twin authors draw on journalistic research rather than on inspiration and empathy. Their novels normally appeal to a down-to-earth taste and avoid digressions into poetry or copious descriptions of feelings and moods.

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Institut für Innovative Philosophie, Vienna

Publication date: January 1, 1998


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