1. RivalGator
    Offline

    RivalGator New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Loserville

    Writing in General

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RivalGator, Apr 22, 2015.

    My best friend and I have decided to write a book together. We have a hard time finding a starting point, but we have a lot of random events plotted out but we don't seem to be able to agree on a timeline, nor do we actually know how to make one. And all kinds of sites give useless advice like, "just write for 10 minutes non stop" like it actually helps. I was wanting to know if you guys had any advice on how to get started? We're writing an adventure/tragedy with small hints of romance/horror. If I left out any details, feel free to ask me.
     
  2. Selbbin
    Offline

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,201
    Likes Received:
    1,787
    Location:
    Australia
    You won't find any good advice, only suggestions that may work, and may not. I would suggest starting with a scene. You only ever start writing when you actually write something. Plotting and planning helps, but to get started you really do need to just get started. And that doesn't have to be at the start. Find one of those random events you have planned and write it. Just that event. Also, you two need to figure out what story it is you are trying to tell.

    As for the timeline, it's all the important events linked together with all the irrelevant crap left out. There will be holes, but you can fill them later.
     
    jannert and Commandante Lemming like this.
  3. VirtuallyRealistic
    Offline

    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2015
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    77
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    In my opinion, writing a book with another person would be a difficult task. Also, the only advice I could give you is what you've already found, you just have to write. Like Selbbin said above, if you have scenes already in your head then go ahead and write them. Maybe putting the words to screen will conjure other ideas inside your head.

    Perhaps if you have multiple characters that will frequently be portrayed in your story, try and think of an opening scene that has both of them together. This will allow the reader to get to know the character's right from the start.

    Also, try to figure out what kind of writer's the two of you are. George R.R. Martin calls them, "Gardeners or Architects." Brandon Sanderson calls them, "Discoverers and Outliners." What these mean is you're either the type of person who likes to just start writing, and see where the story takes you, or you're the type that wants to plan out every detail of what will happen before you begin the story.

    If you're a gardener (A person who likes to write, and discover the story as they go) then, like I said above, just write an opening scene with your character's, and see where it takes you. If you're an architect, then open up a word document and type a paragraph for each of the scenes you want to happen from beginning to end; create a rough outline. Once that is complete, turn that rough outline into an actual story.

    The things you ask about are hard to give advice on other than the advice you've offered already. You just have to start writing.
     
    jannert likes this.
  4. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,593
    Likes Received:
    5,078
    You may want to sort out who does what as co-writers. I think there are some co-writers who both co-write every single word, but I think it's a lot more common to divide the book up, somehow, and each write your own part, then read over the other part, smooth the transitions, etc. The division might be based on two different characters with two different POVs, or it might be two different time periods in the book, or whatever. But both of you sitting there staring at the screen at the same time, one person's hand on the keys while the other dictates, or there's a discussion of every word, or... I don't know. Doesn't seem like it would be efficient, and possibly it's that inefficiency that's keeping you from getting started.
     
    peachalulu likes this.
  5. RivalGator
    Offline

    RivalGator New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Loserville
    Yes, you guys are right when you advise me that co-authoring can be difficult, because I have learned first-hand that it can be. It has had it's moments when it can be extremely rewarding, but it also has it's moments where it makes the two of us want to rip our own hair out. We both have really good ideas and vivid imaginations, and when w were children in school we used to role play on a sheet of paper in between classes out of boredom and come up with these crazy intricate worlds and that is a big reason why we decided to try and write a book together. It has also been our dream to write a book, whether together or separately. I think sometimes our differences are what keep the book from being fully written at times, but we're trying to work on a way to get things done. We will randomly completely agree on something, then vastly disagree. I think our characters actually mesh well together and have unique stories, but it would be surprisingly hard to give up on the book now and use these characters on our own simply because so much of their storyline and history depends on another person's character.

    Thank you guys for the advice! She may join this website because I'm going to tell her about it so maybe she can get some advice too.
     
  6. Commandante Lemming
    Offline

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 8, 2014
    Messages:
    1,241
    Likes Received:
    1,000
    Right - if you don't know the beginning - write the part you do know and then write the beginning later.

    I'm actually writing mine straight through right now, but that's after more than half a year of writing random sequences trying to get some of the plot in place and establishing the characters. I've still got like 30,000 words of unconnected sequences from later that may or may not even get used. After a while hunting and pecking like that, I was able to finally sit down and say, "Okay, focus on what happens after that first scene, and write toward the next piece you know" - I now know the characters well enough to start plugging holes. But early on I had to be scatter-shot.
     
    minstrel likes this.
  7. ChaosReigns
    Offline

    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2013
    Messages:
    1,090
    Likes Received:
    455
    Location:
    Canterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
    Unfortunately i cant help you, as all the work i do is done by myself. I am surprised, however, that neither @KaTrian or @T.Trian have commented on this thread, being as they are co-authors
     
  8. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Maybe focus on the main character. Creating worlds are fun but they're pointless unless the character showing us the world is interesting. It's the difference between seeing New York through the eyes of a pick pocket vs a tour guide. The tour guide is dull and is only interested in details and facts. The pick pocket is interesting because it's his life and his world.
     
    jannert likes this.
  9. tonguetied
    Offline

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    547
    Likes Received:
    219
    Location:
    Near Atlanta
    Why don't you both just write independently of how you think the story should be written for at least some portion and then compare notes to see if there is any commonality? Writing is much more complex than I would have thought and doing it with a partner has to be much more complex. I could see an advantage to have each of you write different characters in the story making it easier to make them distinctive but not sure what other advantages there may be in a collaboration as a first attempt at writing. Of course you could try to use your old school method of swapping notes, I think you would need an outline to keep it on track but I am not a pantser at all so everything is outlined for me.
     
    peachalulu likes this.
  10. aguywhotypes
    Offline

    aguywhotypes Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2013
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    77
    Location:
    Millersburg, Ohio, United States
    Just write something anything. Why? Because, you can always come back and start.
    For that matter, write the ending first.
     
  11. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Your project sounds interesting, and as someone who collabs (with my husband and a member here, @T.Trian), I can tell you it's a lot of fun! However, I'd suggest that before starting you make an agreement, sort of like ground rules. Nothing too official if you don't want, but something you can refer to while writing if you run into problems, like both of you have to be able to stand behind what the other person writes. If you can't, either scrap the project or change it. Also, it's easier if you have your own characters, but it's a good idea to agree that they're your characters, and your co-writer can suggest things for the character, but it's the owner who decides if they get implemented. Or that you have to be completely honest with each other, but refrain from criticizing the writer, only the product, and any criticism has to be backed up.

    To get started, you can for example outline your beginning or even the entire plot as you see it now. Write down what your characters' roles are in the story. You probably end up having at least two main characters, so think about how they come together, what their purposes and goals are, and what they're trying to achieve. If you really wanna have fun, one can write the protagonist, one the antagonist. It's easiest if you employ different POVs instead of the omniscient narrator. This way you can write e.g. one Point of view chapter at the time, then your friend writes the next, and so on. @Mckk, another member here, wrote her debut novel this way so she might have some advice to give you. :)

    Another option is to write together in front of the same screen and provide feedback to each other while writing, which is what T.Trian and I do. Just remember not to interrupt your friend when she writes. You can e.g. raise a finger to signal that you have a suggestion, so she knows to stop when it's suitable for her. If you interrupt a lot, it's easy to lose your train of thought which leads to frustration.

    If you end up disagreeing, take a step back, write another scene or stop writing for a couple of days and collect your thoughts. You'll return to the source of dispute with more open minds later and it's best not to make big decisions when emotional. It's easy to get super attached to your story, vision, and characters, which is sometimes a good thing, but sometimes can blind your judgment and harm the story.

    Collaboration is great fun as you have someone with you there to brainstorm with and who'll give you instant feedback. It's also really productive, plus the writer's block can be more easily avoided.
     
    peachalulu, jannert, T.Trian and 2 others like this.
  12. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I think first it's helpful to agree on what the main goal of the characters is. For example, in my collab, we both agreed that the goal was to find the cure for the virus and the inciting event would be this explosion that then leads to one of our MCs being chased. If you have an agreed direction like this, it makes it easier cus you can more easily agree on what makes the most sense or where the story should go, based on an already agreed goal.

    There are also simply times when you have to compromise and go with what the other person wants even if it might not be what you want. As long as you think the idea is good or interesting and you can see it can make good sense in the story, sometimes you have to just go with it. You are 2 different people with different ideas - you won't agree every time and if you always insist on your own idea, it won't work. It's like any relationship. Maybe I don't wanna go eat French food but my husband does, so as long as I don't really hate French food, I go with him. Next time he goes somewhere I like. Same with story ideas to an extent :)

    In my collab there were a number of things I wasn't keen on, one of them being that there's a love triangle that sprang up without discussion and why my co-author's character was randomly pregnant. Both were occasions of WTF? for me lol. But I went with it. I also went with the idea - not mine - that the third wheel guy wouldn't be a jerk after all. I can say some of this has made the book better, even though at the time I didn't like it. Other ideas I still dislike - but it is what it is :) I don't think it's possible to achieve your own ideal vision in a collab really (cus your ideal won't always be the same as your co-author's ideal) - but you may have a book that would go down a path you would never have taken it and your book is better for it and you will have learnt a lot. That's still something to he proud of.

    However, I would definitely advise having your own character and if there is one rule, it would be that you own that character. You get final say in what that character does, why, his history etc. Some level of complete ownership is very important.

    In my case, we alternated POV chapters. And when it was my character's POV chapter, I get final say in what edits are made in the writing too. And likewise for my co-author. And where dialogue and character reactions are concerned, we have the right to tell the other author to change how they have written your character.

    It's also important you like each other's characters, I may add. I can't say I loved my co-author's character and I worked with it and I love our book. But now I'm writing a spin-off with my character from the book so I can give him the story I wanted for him. My co-author has taken this rathet personally, but since I am not stealing her character or her ideas - mine is set in a different world altogether so there's no overlap at all - I'm gonna go ahead with it. However, this is just to show you there could be unforseen drama even way after the book's done!

    Collabing was tonnes of fun. But I dunno, can't say whether I'd wanna do it again. The benefits of collab is the fresh ideas, the learning opportunity, and the constant motivation :)
     
    peachalulu, T.Trian and KaTrian like this.
  13. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    This is a good observation, and sometimes one has to yield and compromise for the betterment of the book.

    I don't think I've ever felt like I've sacrificed my vision in my and T's collaborations, and we've usually found a way to express them even if they've been controversial or one of us has been initially uncomfortable with the idea. We try to rationalize these things to each other. Like just yesterday, I was convinced my male MC would give a certain order based on my rationale, my vision, while T explained why it didn't make sense to him. Turns out he was absolutely right, I just hadn't thought it through myself, not from every vantage point, and I guess that's one really awesome thing about collaboration: two minds tend to catch nonsensicalities quicker than one. Although we do have made mistakes too -- but luckily a lot of them get caught in our beta readers' net. :D

    When I have a WTF moment, I do mention it. Like I felt there was a shower scene that was yet another example in a long line of women do their thinking in showers while men do it while chopping wood or something else cool, but turned out it had other reasons to be there... And then it was scrapped in the end 'cause an entire part ended up snip-snipped.

    Communication is really important, I think, and remembering that you want to write a good book, not make the writing process into a masturbatory egotrip.
     
    jannert, T.Trian and Mckk like this.
  14. T.Trian
    Offline

    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Messages:
    2,246
    Likes Received:
    1,449
    Location:
    Mushroom Land
    @KaTrian and @Mckk already covered most of what I had to say, so hopefully I won't repeat too much:
    You gotta learn to not be precious about your writing. Sometimes you pour your heart and soul into a part that you've researched for eons, that you've crafted with love and passion, yadda yadda, and then your partner says the words nobody proud of a piece of writing wants to hear: "This part has to go."

    I mean situations where you know she's right, but you just don't want to admit it because you love the scene, you worked so hard at it, it's your best writing ever... but the story comes first. The damn story always comes first unless your writing is nothing more than an ego trip. And when the story comes first, unfortunately sometimes the big picture can't accommodate some mini-masterpiece of yours. It sucks, sure, but in the end the story is worth more than one scene or even a character:
    Once I ended up cutting out an entire PoV character because she just didn't fit the story in the end. I had a lot to say through the character. Too much, in fact, so she would've been wasted on that story as a smaller character whereas giving her the space she deserved as a character would've messed up the story, so away she went.
    Turns out, taking her out of that story and writing her into another one was the best option for both stories. At the time I was frustrated because we had to cut and rewrite quite a bit, but, again, trusting our main vision of the story itself paid off and was well worth the annoyance of losing writing you were happy with.

    So yeah, collabs are doable, very educational, and a ton of fun, but they do require a more... accepting/open mindset than writing alone, being the sole creator with all the power.
    Good luck!
     
  15. sprirj
    Offline

    sprirj Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Messages:
    523
    Likes Received:
    158
    I've co wrote a short story before, but it was just for fun, and none of my co writers cared what happened to the characters. We just took it in turns to write a paragraph and had to react to what the previous person had written.

    If you really care about the story and like working with each other, but struggle to agree, this is what's would do:

    Get a timeline of events in place, and allocate a word count to it ( eg Bob and Sam go to the cafe -500 words, Bob and Sam talk about event-1000 words, Bob and Sam argue - 1500 words, a fight breaks out -2000 words.)

    Once you both have a structure, each could write from a particular characters perspective, ie unreliable narrator. It would not matter what each character was saying, as it would be from their view point, but actual events would occur in a similar order. Bob would therefore blame Sam for the fight, and vice visa. In editing you could iron out any jarring moments and errors, or even decide one writers events are better and develop it from there.

    It would be hard work, but would be its own reward.
     
  16. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,780
    Likes Received:
    7,294
    Location:
    Scotland
    I do love the way your mind works! It's what makes your stories so engaging and unexpected.
     
    peachalulu likes this.

Share This Page