1. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Limited collaboration

    Discussion in 'Collaboration' started by Anonym, Jul 17, 2011.

    Hi. Um, I like "collaborating" with other writers. Or maybe not collaborating per se, but bouncing ideas, giving feedback and generally helping workshop the story. It is intellectually stimulating for me and helps sharpen my creative writing skills, and usually helps the other person, which is about all I'd hope for.

    If I do start to feel that I am becoming integral to the development of the story - as in becoming a/the driving force behind it, rather than merely a... supplimenting contributor - I tend to scale back my involvement. Mainly because I don't want to be depended upon, and beyond a certain point I start to feel I should push to become an "official" collaborator/co-author - write out a contract and all that - which isn't something I generally want to do. My point being that I don't allow myself to contribute so much that I would feel a sense of entitlement or want to haggle over rights/recognition to the work, which seems to be one of the main drawbacks of collaboration expressed on this site.

    The only serious issue I've ran into, again, is the potentiality to become a creative crutch of sorts for the other writer. However, personally, I try to use a kind of socratic method to draw inspiration from the other writer ("Why would he do that?" "What is the nature of these 2 characters' relationship/interpersonal dynamic?[lovers, co-workers, rivals, war-buddies, etc.]" "Who might he look to for help?") to prompt thought into undeveloped motivations, plot-arcs, etc., instead of just suggesting them myself, which risks my being involved to the point of their creative detriment.

    Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone has done anything similar, or thinks this kind of self-limited collaboration is a good/bad idea. If that makes sense. Collaboration seems to get a bad wrap on this site, for many good reasons, but I think prudent and measured collab can be enriching for all involved. Atleast for people to whom creative exercise is its own reward.

    Pretty specific, but I'd appreciate any thoughts. Figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.
     
  2. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There are a couple of members of this forum that I have grown comfortable enough with to bounce ideas with or to give them things to review. I consider them good friends, and I take very seriously any suggestions they make. I haven't relied on these folks to help develop ideas - I really prefer to do that myself - but they have critiques my materials and I've critiqued theirs, and we've discussed writing in general.

    One other thing: why would you put "um" in a post (first line)? If you paused to gather your thoughts before writing (which is what "um" usually denotes in speech), why would you feel you had to show us that? I can see using it for effect (such as sarcasm) but I'm genuinely confused here.
     
  3. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Cool, good to hear. Thanks for the words. I appreciate it.

    Because I was hesitant to use the word collaboration due to its arguable stigma on this site, being part of why I parenthesized the term and then disclaimed the statement. Does it matter?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The stigma, as you call it, is a warning that collaboration without a clear contract often leads to broken friendhips and writing projects that have to be abandoned to avoid legal entanglements.

    Not everyone will listen to those warnings. And not ewveryone who ignores the warnings will get into a mess. Still, the risk seems high enough that the warning should be presented.

    You don't think the person who gave you some limited assistence is too nice to litigate? Just wait until real money or a "published author" status is up for grabs. You may find your collaborator isn't the selfless mice guy you thought he was.

    Really, is it worth it?
     
  5. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Good point. Writing partnerships are risky, can turn sour and their consequences can be tragic. That I do not dispute - for that the apprehension is deserved in my opinion. Some stigmas are deserved.

    But that's not what I'm talking about - that's why I was hesitant to say "collaboration", because it apparently conjures a fairly specific idea of.. well, a full-on partnership. I'm referring to collaboration with no expectation of co-ownership or sharing of rights by one person to the piece of another - without a presumption of partnership. Collaboration for the sake of creative exercise on my part, and recieving (ideally) thought-provoking feedback and guidance on theirs. I'm almost tempted to say "mentoring" instead, but that sounds a bit pretentious and collab works as well. This kind of thing can be great writing practice in my experience, basically.

    To clarify, I'm the one trying to give feedback and whatnot. I'm not all that trusting myself, but either way I've never really recieved help myself. I'm not risking anything. For me writing is solitary, but I've met many people for whom feedback goes a long way.

    But it seems you think the line between collaboration being litigatable or not is finer than I do. And you may well be right, I can't profess to know. Maybe I'm being quixotic about it. I don't allow myself to contribute so much that I would feel I deserve a piece of the pie, so I guess it's maybe less of an issue to me than it might be to others.

    Are you aware of any legal precedents or way to determine at what point collaboration becomes litigable? I kind of wonder if some writers on this very forum should be wary with their requests for feedback if limited assistance as you call it is all it takes, because at times it's not much different at all from what I'm talking about.

    Also, do you imagine I could get a contract saying I don't want or expect any right to any part of someone's work or somethin to that effect? It's never been an issue before but it doesn't seem like a bad idea.

    Anyhow, thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can draw up any kind of contract you want... if both parties agree to its terms, then it'd be binding...

    anything you do in re swapping creative ideas can be actionable, if one of you feels like suing... whether it's allowed, or thrown out as being without legal merit isn't the point... you can still be out a lot of change for attoryney's and court fees, if the person you've been working with sees dollar signs beckoning...
     

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