1. bibliolept
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    bibliolept Member

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    Co-writing a story will put a strain on our friendship?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by bibliolept, Apr 24, 2012.

    A dear friend and I have been talking about writing a story together. We've already got the characters, most of the plot, the setting... we've been talking about style, themes, genres, almost everything you need to write a book. We decided to try our hand at Gothic fiction---but anyway, the details aren't important.

    There's a little rift between the two of us, lately. On the one hand, I'm (maybe wrongfully) accusing her of not putting enough effort into the story. She doesn't research as much as I would like her to, she doesn't give a lot of input about the plot, blah blah blah. On the other hand, I'm (maybe rightly) being accused of being a perfectionist and being a little overzealous. She says I'm suffocating her with all these ideas and I should take a step back from research to really write the book.

    We've talked about it and we've settled our issues for the moment, but I'm worried that the arguments will continue, anyway. I mean, there's bound to be more clashes, and maybe we're just not compatible as writers. Maybe we should just drop the collaborative book idea and continue to write on our own?

    So I'm asking, has anybody ever tried to collaborate with someone on a novel before? What kind of arguments, if any, did you have? Is it a normal part of the creative process? Or should certain writers just stay clear of each other's work?

    - bibliolept
     
  2. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    I don't think i would ever colloborate in writing a story that I intended to publish, although if you look at roleplaying, thats a massive collaboration of writers coming together to share ideas. It sounds like both of you have your own views of how to write, but if you are determined to finish this book, then why not try splitting into sections, with one writing one half, showing it to other and then other writes another section. And so on.
     
  3. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Friends or not - if you go through with this partnership, you should have a written contract.

    I prefer to work alone, so I am unable to answer your Q. on whether it is a good idea or not. Some partnerships work well and are successful. I suppose it depends on the temperament, commitment, enthusiasm, dedication and passion for the project by the individuals concerned. Are you both on the same wavelength?

    edit - afterthought, as to whether co-writing a story, will put a strain on your friendship - it seems as if it already has.
     
  4. bibliolept
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    bibliolept Member

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    @TheMagnan: Funnily enough, she and I met and became friends on a role-playing site and began writing what I still think is an intriguing plot. We decided to turn it into a novel after a few months. And that's a really good piece of advice. Thank you for that! I'll mention it to her the next time we speak.

    @Trilby: I like working alone, too. It's just that the plot's been kind of a collaborative effort from the beginning, and so we ran with it. I think we both want basically the same things for the story, but we seem to disagree about a lot when it comes to actually writing it. She's not very concerned with scientific, historical and cultural accuracy, and I'm obsessed with it. I was hoping we would be able to meet a middle ground and that the arguing's just part of the process, you know? :D P.S. I never thought about contracts before. I'll mention it. Thanks!
     
  5. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    Your welcome, glad to be of assistance, and good luck with the collaboration.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is why novels with two authors are not common. In any case, I feel that if two people are to write a novel together, they should have similar writing styles (and that includes attitudes to research, level of detail etc) because if you don't, the different approaches will not only create conflict, but the story itself will be strangely inconsistent.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    from what you've said about the squabbles you've been having so far, i'd strongly advise against going forward with this plan, as the rifts will almost assuredly become greater and more frequent... which can and probably will end up destroying what was a close friendship...

    only an exceptionally rare few writing partnerships have worked well and produced successful books, movies, plays and such... failures and relationship disasters greatly outnumber those anomalies... so, with you two getting off to a rocky start, my best advice is to go your separate ways writing-wise and remain good friends...

    that said, it may already be too late, if you don't have a collaboration agreement/contract in place that spells out what happens to the story concept and existing work, in the event either one of you dissolves the partnership... without one, you could be facing serious contention over which of you will get to finish the book... if either one does, without the written permission of the other, legal wrangles could well ensue if/when that person tries to [or does] publish it...

    sorry to say, you're in a pickle right now, if you don't have one in place, regardless of whether you continue writing together, or not... you can email me for a good basic agreement that should be signed by both of you before another word is written, or another idea exchanged...

    no one should ever write a word or exchange an idea for a story/book/screenplay/whatever with a potential writing partner without having a collaboration contract in place... to do so is courting career and legal/financial suicide... i know, having had mentees find out the hard way, that they should have listened to me...

    feel free to email me for help with your situation, if needed... consult a literary attorney for corroboration and for info on what your legal recourse options may be...

    love and fingers-crossed-for-you hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
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  8. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Sure, my twin and I tried. It lasted promptly three chapters before it died. We did and still do not need anymore reasons to be getting into arguments. I think they only thing we managed to agree on was the direction of the story.
     
  9. simplyrachel
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    simplyrachel Member

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    not necessarily, i mean look at p.c. and kristen cast? their vampire novels are awesome!
     
  10. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    All I keep thinking of are those Preston and Child novels. Collaborations can work out.

    It seems like it really depends on who you're with and what's your vision. I once tried to work with a friend on a work, and it actually went pretty nicely. It was her story, with my editing. Our friendship ended for other reasons, but working together was actually quite nice.

    That's my suggestion for you. Let her take duties and you take other ones. If she doesn't like to do research, let her produce the first draft of your text. Early on, it's not so important how well you write the stuff (unless rushed writing interferes with your inspiration) but more so producing a large amount of it, that way you have a lot to read and remind yourself about all you want to accomplish with your story. Then you do the research and editing. Discuss plot pathways carefully, but other than that let her write and write, then you look over it and figure out what works and what doesn't -- like if you're better at writing a specific character's dialogue than her, or you want to sharpen up the narrative or correct something that you discover through research.

    Of course, this won't work too well if your friend has a fragile ego. She might not like you being the primary editor. But in any case, there may still be one way or another for you to divide the work, like each of you taking on a separate chapter, or taking on specific characters. If you have to, go through a dialogue -- just dialogue, no narrative -- where the two of you type out a conversation between two characters. You could do this on an irc chat, then have the two characters talk to each other and thus let the choices of what happens next be decided by your characters and not you.
     
  11. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    I think having a collaborative voice in a novel, if done well, could really be a boon. After all, if TV writers can work together, why can't novelists? I do think though that you'd have to portion out the work to really use the strengths that two voices gives.

    For instance, before writing a single word, both of you should agree on the tone, the style and the (can't stress this enough) the ending of the book. Do this face-to-face if possible, the bouncing around of ideas is invaluable in the formative process. After this though, I would personally suggest you begin to spilt your efforts. Find out what your individual strengths and weaknesses are and cover each other. You mentioned that your partners weakness is research while yours might be committing to actually writing. I don't see a conflict here. One of you could oversee the factual accuracy of the book while the other propels the creation of the first draft. There's no point knowing how many lug-nuts should be on a ship if you've only got the hull built.

    Perhaps you could use your cooperative further. Agree on an overall arc, then use a split narrative with each of you writing from one characters perspective. Nothing would guarantee individuality of character voice more than this. Or if you want to use only one narrative voice, you could split the character dialogue between you so that only you write the words of certain characters and your partner the others. Perhaps one of you might be better at setting description, the other at emotional detail, again, you could split these between you.

    What you don't want is one person feeling like a glorified proof-reader, and for this, you will have to be willing to compromise on some things. Once the first draft is finished, you can get a third party to read it, and if you were right about some flaws, then you'll be able to work out between you how to fix the parts that aren't working.
     
  12. bibliolept
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    bibliolept Member

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    Thank you all so much for the time and advice. I'm taking all of this into account and it's really helpful so far. :) Cheers.
     
  13. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    No novels, but I've known many people who decided to collaborate on writing movie screenplays. The only one which wasn't a disaster was the one I co-wrote, and that was because they were shooting it in six weeks by the time I became involved.

    The usual problem was that after a while one of the pair decided that writing was too much work and dropped out, and because they hadn't made any kind of agreement beforehand the other couldn't take what they had and continue because they didn't have clear rights to the work. So the screenplays sit there in limbo, unfinished and unable to be sold if they were finished.

    Hence, at a minimum, I wouldn't do it without a signed agreement covering rights if one writer does drop out.
     
  14. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    My wife and I are both writing books. We routinely bounce ideas off of each other. No fights yet, but a lot of good information and insights.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Never collaborate on a writing project without a clear, written contract that specifies individual responsibilities and deliverables, steps for resolving differences of opinion, and disposition of the project if the partnership is terminated.
     
  16. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    I normally work alone so I can't be a massive help but there are these two collaborative writers I know online, and they seem to get along well. But I can see why it might be a bit difficult... the suggestions above seem good.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yikes. While our own @KaTrian and @T.Trian are examples of how this collaboration CAN work very well, it IS unusual.

    My first thought when reading your OP was that you should just write your stories separately. Then I came to @mammamaia 's post and thought ...oog. She's right. You've both developed and worked on the same story, so which one of you 'owns' it? If you both finish your story separately and both go to publish separately ...not a pretty picture, is it?

    If you can't agree on who does what, then maybe you should just abandon this project before it goes any further. And by all means, if you DO continue, get a contract in place ASAP, as many others here have suggested.

    I think the Trians do a lot of their writing in actual tandem ...they've mentioned sharing a computer screen with separate keyboards. So maybe if you tried something like this, actually working together and not writing separately and trying to fit the bits together later on, it might work better, with fewer squabbles and a more even input.

    I'm hoping KaTrian and T.Trian weigh in here. Their perspective would be invaluable.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @jannert

    This thread is over two years old. Pretty sure the two of them have killed each other by now...
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ha ha! Just noticed that. There was an update showing in my sidebar this morning, for some reason, which is why I glommed onto it. Yes. Enquiring minds want to know Where Are They Now???
     
  20. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    It depends on the chemistry of the relationship. But any major disagreement could mean a severe change in how you consider the yclept of your status with your friend. I think it's best that you both act semovedly instead of trying to tackle a rooster that won't roost.
     

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