1. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    My co-author is my girlfriend

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Orsondewitt, Sep 23, 2016.

    We've successfully thought out the main plot, but now that it has come to writing we argue about every little thing and can't decide on the way of telling.
    She's an adept of more classical writing, while I'm inclined to write "modern" stories.
    For example, I want to write about how a whaling vessel is overrun by international whale conservation patrol in the midst of capturing a whale, while she insists that the whale should be killed without anyone intervening and that should be the end of the first chapter, and the details of whalers' capture by the "police" should be explained somewhere later on.
    Is there any way for us to work this out or should we just abandon the idea of writing together?
     
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  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Every time I've asked myself "Should I write X or Y," the best answer has always turned out to be "Both"

    Maybe you could start with her scene happening to one whale at the beginning to set the tension for when yours happens again to another whale sometime in the middle?
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I co-write with my then boyfriend now husband, who's also a mod here (@T.Trian), and we've been at it for several years now. When we disagree, we try to look at the problem from two angles.
    - what serves the story the best
    - what we individually like the best

    The story usually comes first. So if we feel option X serves the plot or builds tension well, it's likely we'll go for that option. If, however, both of our ideas seem to work within the context of the story as well as are according to our individual visions, we have to let the issue rest for a couple of days. After that most disputes are resolved.

    I think putting aside your own ego is key. We both want to write the best story we can and try to combine our strengths. We can't afford to be petty or precious. However, even when we began collaborating, we argued very little. If in your case things remain frustrating, it might be best to write the "serious" manuscript individually and work together only on something light-hearted and fun.

    To me it sounds like your disagreement is about what serves the story best instead of personal preference. Consider pacing and tension. What do you guys think is important information and needs to be told to the reader? What works as a flashback? Would keeping certain aspects of the story in the dark enhance the story? Put your emotions aside for a while and approach the dilemma analytically.
     
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  4. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    No, it's just an introduction to all the things that happen after that. There are no whales later in the story
     
  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds simple to me. Don't co-write, at least don't co-write with your girlfriend. You have different literary tastes and can't agree on a style, so why are you even persisting with this idea??
     
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  6. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    Writing together with a partner can work (the famous case is josie lloyd and emlyn rees who fell in love while writing 'come together' and subsequently co authored 5 more books. However even with them its noticeable that they have him chapters and her chapters so its not really 'co authoring'

    you could write a character each, or write seperate but intertwined stories, or you could conclude that is a terrible idea and just write seperately

    also how serious are you (about each other i mean, not about the writing) - writing is a very emotional thing and writing with someone means letting them into your head - this may work better if you've been together for a while than if you've only been going out 3 minutes
     
  7. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    Hey, thank you so much for this reply.
    Yes, it's always about what serves the story best. For example, she wants this to be an epilogue a prologue and immediately give a description of the main character (taciturn, cold-blooded, quick-tempered, etc.) while I don't want to spit adjectives at readers and let them decide for themselves. I don't want to be blatant so fast, I don't to reveal who's the main character until the second chapter; she thinks the other way. She says that we should describe our characters better than make them a ruck.
    I say that there should be a description of how the poachers are captured (while they are still hunting the whale, like, they themselves are captured while they are trying to capture a whale, very dynamic), she says that this should end with them killing the whale and then everything should be explained when they're already in jail.
    Point is, no one can say which of these works better, because there will be no consequences of this, we're either telling it one way or the other, whatever happens next doesn't depend on this.
    Still, if we write my way, she says she can't write because it's not consistent with what she thought it would be and she has no idea of how to continue. "those are your ideas, you tell them"
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2016
  8. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    Because we agreed on the story as a whole and now it doesn't feel right to me to write "our story" alone
     
  9. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    It sounds like you should bin this project before it damages your relationship

    also i think you mean a prologue ;)
     
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  10. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, good luck with that then.
     
  11. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That may be a good idea.
     
  12. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    That's what we wanted since the beginning, but then when I started arguing about giving out too much description in the prologue she said that I change her character and that I shouldn't get in the way, although it doesn't concern the character but the prologue as a whole.
    Maybe we really should put it in a drawer for a while.
    lel, yes.
     
  13. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wait, new idea: do the two of you have any other ideas for stories besides this one?

    There are stories that are told better by her narrative style just as much as there are stories that are better told in yours (and even more that could be told well in either style). Maybe the two of you could collaborate on brainstorming enough plots that you could write the text for some of them and she could write text for the others?

    I'm told that Beatles fans are able to tell the difference between "John songs that Paul helped with" versus "Paul songs that John helped with," maybe that could be a good dynamic for the two of you to try too?
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look at the words you're using to describe what she wants to do - according to you, she wants to "spit adjectives" and be "blatant" - those aren't the words of someone who's seeing this as two equally valid ways to tell a story, those are the words of someone who thinks he's writing the "right" way and someone else is writing the "wrong" way.

    So add another voice to those saying you should reconsider the cowriting if you value your relationship.

    Or, if you don't value it all that much - you should both write the story on your own, based on the shared outline, and the outcome will be totally different and you can both submit to agents/publishers at the same time and see who "wins"!
     
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  15. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    Oh. English is not my native language, so I may sometimes choose the wrong words just because I couldn't think of a more neutral synonym right away. I didn't mean it that way.

    I've already thought about that, but it seems like a lot of wasted time and I doubt she'd agree. And what if both of them are picked up by different publishers?
     
  16. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I'm another one saying this doesn't sound like it's going to work.

    The only way I've heard of it being successful is when each person has their own chapters which they are in complete control of. The other can't change their writing or demand anything. Annnnd this is why I would never co-write, because I couldn't give away that control.
     
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  17. Orsondewitt
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    Orsondewitt New Member

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    Do you mean that we should swap our ideas and write each other's story? Or do you mean that we should simply help each other with developing them?
     
  18. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Help each other with both: both of you work on all of the plots together, then see which ones fit best with each person's writing style.
     
  19. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    T and I don't write like that yet the way we write together works. :D However, we control our own characters. So a sense of ownership can also help. I think it allows us to steer the story better or something...
     
  20. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I don't even think I could really be with another writer let alone write a novel with them. What is the benefit you see in doing this project together? There are much better things for a couple to do than write together.
     
  21. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    If we substitute "write" for "a shared hobby and passion", this becomes possibly the most absurd thing I've ever read.
     
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  22. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    You can also try writing both beginnings, continue the story from there, and later see which beginning you like best.
     
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  23. cydney
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    cydney Banned

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    Just a comment:
    I have always wanted to write erotica with a man I'm attracted to.

    I encourage you to keep trying
     
  24. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You can try to solve this by looking up writing tips regarding description and the first chapter. My advice: use adjectives to describe your characters but keep it short and sweet. Show rather than tell where you can, but make sure what you do isn't contrived, because show-don't-tell isn't a rule. Also, I'd introduce the main character right away. Keeping the main character "a secret" doesn't sound like the kind of secret that'll pique your readers' interest. It's more enjoyable to know right away who's the hero. Besides, if your book is published, the blurb will most likely reveal it anyway, so yeah, mystery is nice, but use it in a way that it makes sense for your reader.

    Write both versions, leave them to sit for a couple of days, get back to them, read them out loud, and discuss which beginning will capture your reader's interest the best. Also remember that you want your reader to keep on reading, so use techniques that help maintain their interest. Leave things up in the air to be resolved later and give every scene a quickly identifiable purpose (reason to exist). Decision-making becomes easier when you both know a trick or two about "writing well."

    Make a pact, and you will not deviate from the agreement after that, at all, ever, or else abandon writing together forever: if you have your own characters, both of you are free to suggest changes, traits, etc. and even write the other's characters every now and then, but only on one condition: the "owner" of the character makes the final call and you just have to live with that, whatever it is, and trust your writing partner's judgment. If she feels your prologue doesn't show her character in the right light, you simply can't continue until you convince her her character could be interesting even if s/he's slightly different or the prologue has to be accommodated around the character. Think about what serves the story the best and try not to be precious about your vision. Yesterday I wrote a scene from the POV of T's character, a male no less, because I got this idea about the things he might be going through at that point in time. I wrote it while T was playing a video game and after I was done, he read it, made the changes he wanted (and all I did was explain why I wrote something the way I did), and that was that. No fuss, no frustration.

    Sometimes when T has stuck to some decision I haven't liked, I've been tempted to use my characters to achieve whatever goal I had, but it can be risky and probably not the best decision for the story. Usually, if it's a decision we can't agree on, it's probably something that shouldn't be in the story in any case 'cause it's probably shit. This works for us because we have the same likes and dislikes, values, and opinions and are basically this monstrosity that I honestly sometimes can't tell where I end and he begins. If you and your girlfriend have this "opposites attract" type of relationship, writing together might not be for you 'cause agreeing on story stuff will become a chore. On the other hand, it can be so, so much fun. I'm super happy I can do this with my hubby 'cause that means the time we write is together-time, and if it was up to me, I'd spend my every waking hour with him (except for a few toilet breaks).
     
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You won't get very far, though. You'll just end up having sex after a few paragraphs. :rofl:
     
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