1. storystitcher
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    storystitcher Member

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    Writing with other people?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by storystitcher, Apr 20, 2016.

    What are your thoughts on writing a story with someone else? So, for example, you take in turns with someone else writing paragraphs/chapters etc. It's fun, but do you guys think it can help with improving your writing? Do you think it's possible to get a good story out of it in the end? Or would the inconsistencies of having two minds working on the same piece prove too much of an issue?
     
  2. Krea
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    Krea Member

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    I think it's very possible to write a good collaborative story--but only under the right circumstances and only if one person is willing to relinquish more creative control to the other person. At least in my experience, equal writing--such as in roleplay--is good for practice but rarely produces a well-rounded, coherent story unless heavily edited later.
     
  3. storystitcher
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    storystitcher Member

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    This is what I'm thinking, haha. It's difficult to get the story to go in one direction, I've found.
     
  4. Krea
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    Krea Member

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    Oh yeah. That's why even in role-playing, I always preferred one-on-one--because writing with one other person is hard enough. But I've had some very successful collaborative projects, though I will say about half of them I played the "editor" role more than anything and the other half I was more of the "writer" if that makes any sense. Just kind of front seat/back seat dynamic.
     
  5. storystitcher
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    storystitcher Member

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    My problem is I am a bit of a control freak, but at the same time I feel guilty if my ideas are being used more than the other person's. ha. What I like, though, is that collaborative writing really forces you to be creative and think outside the box when your writing partner writes something you weren't expecting. You have to think on your feet a lot more.
     
  6. Krea
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    Krea Member

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    Oh yeah absolutely. It's one of the things I love about it. It really brings you outside of your boundaries and forces you to think about your characters in situations you didn't necessarily imagine them in. P: I still do a lot of collaborative writing but I kind of stick to kitschy fandom stuff, science fiction, and pretty much only LGBT+ pairings because it's strictly for fun/stress relief/a bit of practice.
     
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  7. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Most of the writers I've seen do this successfully are married to each other. I think that says something about the level of communication required.
     
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  8. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You get immediate feedback, so in this sense it can improve your writing. It can also motivate you to get better at the craft because you don't want to "write worse" than your partner.

    Me and my hubby have completed several manuscripts by now, but whether or not they're good... I guess only time will tell if any of them ever gets published. There won't be inconsistencies if you both know where you can take the story and characters any more than there'd be when you write alone. If you write in different locations, you just have to make sure you read well the portion your partner has written. With my hubby, we write at the same time, so feedback is instantaneous and we both know exactly where the story and characters are going. We also share a similar writing style and at this point our communication during the process has become so effortless and fluid, it sometimes feels like our brains are actually connected. :D

    There are downsides to collaboration as well: you might end up disagreeing with your partner about something that can actually break the book. We've navigated through problems like that, but they can be pretty tricky. I find that it's also important to share similar values, and taste in literature. If your partner likes flowery, stylistic prose while you prefer terse and simplistic, there could be a problem. If you want to parody religion while your partner finds that distasteful, you could have a problem.

    Open and honest communication and mutual respect will take you a long way if you're planning to collab. It's a lot of fun and I definitely recommend it. :)
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Two of my favourite teen books were written that way: P.S. Longer Letter Later and Snail Mail No More. They were both made up of correspondence between two friends who now lived in different states. It had two authors: one who wrote Elizabeth's letters and one who wrote Tara's. According to the authors they didn't plan what happened - they literally "posted" the letters to each other and responded.

    I'm pretty certain I couldn't write a book like that. I would need creative control over anything with my name on it.
     
  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've written a novel-length fanfic with another writer, someone I've never met - we did it by working out a fairly clear outline from the start, and having two different MCs, with reasonably distinct stories for most of the novel, then alternating one chapter from her character's POV with one chapter from mine.

    It was fun! She wrote more slowly than I did so it was a bit frustrating to wait, but I had other projects I could work on in the down time.

    And I think it kept her inspired to keep going where she might have otherwise faded off and stopped writing, so it was good that way, too.

    The finished story? I think it had some really good parts, and the plot was tighter than most of my solo efforts due to the outline. I'm not sure the writing was as consistent as it could have been, but we were posting it a chapter at a time - if we'd gone back over and polished things at the end, it probably could have been smoothed out.
     
  11. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    I bet the story turned out better than you think. well maybe, I never read it. The idea that there are two alternating POV's and a distinct writing style for each one is actually pretty cool. I think it would make me feel like there are actually two different people telling their story.
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    Now my plans for having a co-writer, who is also my life partner, is for me to write a rough draft, but polish it as much as I'm creatively capable to, then he is to re-write it and fix all the technical problems that I suck at. Then I plan to re-write it again, and re-inject my style back into it. Ultimately it will by my book with my name on it, so it's important that I write the final draft. Hopefully this all will work out, he's very busy with his job, and kind of lazy when not working, so I am not holding my breath. We'll see.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think I would ever collaborate with someone. That would require compromise, communication, and a contract. I'm not good at the first two, and I dislike contracts. ;)

    But if it works for you, God bless.
     
  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to have a writing partner back in my screenwriting days. We hashed out the story together, but I always wrote the actual scripts. I resented that, but never told him so. He should only have had story credit, not script credit, but because he had aspirations to direct (doesn't everyone?) he felt it was important that he get half-credit.

    That was my only experience writing with someone else.

    As for the rest of the story...

    Our first paid gig, we wrote a science fiction script for a small company in Vancouver, BC. They were idiots, but they had money. Unfortunately, my partner and I couldn't shoehorn some of the producer's more *ahem* exotic ideas into the script and we were replaced after the third draft. The next writing team—as far as I can tell—just did whatever the producer and director wanted and turned in a complete mess. (I heard all this through the grapevine because my partner was also the special effects guy). So the second writing team was replaced by... wait for it... the producer and director, neither of whom had any idea what they were doing. They even hired someone to come in and type while they paced the floor and argued over what should be written down.

    An actor I knew got a role in the film and he told me during the premiere that he and another actor (at the behest of the director) would—while the crew was setting up for a shot—go off in a corner and scribble away writing the scene they were about to shoot.

    One scene worked really, really well, though. It was a scene from the first draft my partner and I had handed in. But one scene does not make a film, unfortunately.

    I felt most sorry for Mark Hamill. It took being cast in that Kevin Smith film for him to start coming back from that one.

    On the plus side, my name got shifted to the bottom of a long list of writers and so when it comes up on Amazon, it's hard to tell I had anything to do with it.

    But I got paid and sometimes that's all you can take away from the writing experience.

    Like I said, that's my only experience writing with someone else. Not to put you off or anything. :)
     
  14. KevinMcCormack
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    KevinMcCormack Member

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    As part of my exploration into creative writing, I participate in a weekly Improv drop-in workshop.

    The main skill I intended to work on was story creation, but I also learned a lot about collaboration and adaptive storytelling.

    I have no career interest in performance, but I believe these courses have helped my novel writing a lot, and I think I could write collaboratively with the right partner(s).

    There appear to be different approaches to collaboration. I heard that Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (who write the Expanse novels under a pseudonym James S. A. Corey) write specific characters' scenes and subplots, within a shared overarching plot. It's noticeable, as the alternating chapters/sections really infuse the characters with different voices.
     
  15. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    It sounds like a nightmare to me lol. I don't like working creatively in that way with other people. I think if I were a writer for a t.v. show or a movie that's one things but for a book, I am not sure lol. I tried writing a book with my husband and it was so hard lol.
     
  16. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Hasn't happened yet. But it does sound like fun, bringing multiple perspectives together and write a tale at length.
     
  17. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    My wife and I collaborate on each other's writing, editing and story line thinking. Particularly when I am dealing with a woman's point of view, I find her inputs invaluable, though she seems to know just how men think. We are very careful to avoid overly defining each other's story lines in advance, just broad suggestions, and an occasional suggested rewrite. At many points we would just open a bottle of wine and have a skull session on where a key chapter in my WIP should go, whether my characters would act that way, etc. Or why I would feel that I had hit some roadblock. Frankly, I couldn't have finished this without her help. I am returning the favor on her just-started WIP.

    Microsoft Word "Track changes" mode is very helpful for collaborative editing. The recipient can then accept, reject, or revise the suggested changes with a right click of the mouse. If you have multiple editors, each one's changes are in a different color, and name tagged. I use that for professional work at the lab, where collaboration is de rigeur: no pride of authorship there! Karen and I e-mail our work back and forth. Since Word can be set up to highlight most SPaG errors, I prefer that, though we also do hard copy and pen and paper.

    I also edit other people's work when I beta read. Make sure if you edit someone else's work, get it in editable form... I got one in uneditable .pdf, and he had to get my comments by mail, with my abysmal chicken-scratch handwriting.

    I am also working on a massive non-fiction collaboration, on the evolution of my particular naval aviation community (TACAMO) from a McHale's Navy backwater in 1972 to a very well-respected and thriving community today. This involves getting inputs from each of fifteen key people who brought this about, and I have gotten, so far, chapters from about 3 and half (one hasn't finished his yet), one of whom is me. Problems? First off, herding cats! Three fourths haven't responded yet. The three who did took several months of prodding. I am editing everyone's work, none of whom are professional writers. Secondly one person included some stuff about one person running off with someone else's wife (not his, nor him)... not a good forum for washing such dirty laundry, but he thinks it is important and relevant. (It's not!) The big problem is to get these disparate styles into some semblance of similarity.
     

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