Sunday, May 16, 2010

If too many cooks spoil the broth, what do too many writers do?

We have fun...and maybe some frustration, but mostly fun!

After months of pretty good activity, my little writer's group got an infusion of new blood from the larger group.  I don't know how twice as many people translated in half as many posts, but it did.  Poking Julie (the muse and task master) to have something for the group next month, we found we're in the same boat--working on edits with nothing else we're prepared to share. 

A couple of jokes later and we started to work on a pretty serious collaboration.  

My experience working with other writers pretty much consisted of two childhood friends and I doing rounds for a few pages and then not, and with my husband who lays out fantastic story ideas and then decides that his work there is done.  Yep.  I've had experience in *not* collaborating. 

I went in search of advice on the web and found a ton of crap.  But knowing I'd seen something worth while out there, I went through a few blog archives until I found Holly Lisle's How To (and how not to).  It covers the obvious issues of who writes what, and also the the business aspects that you might not consider when you think, "Hey, won't this be fun!"  And Julie linked me to the two authors writing as one Moira Rogers--a good look at joint writing from a pair successfully doing it.  

For me, the last 24+ hours  have been a crash course in compromise.  It certainly started easy: she took my not-really-kidding joke seriously and we discussed genre, then narrowed down the genre elements.  For good or for ill, I "said", I've had this idea that fits, but I've never fully developed it.  Instant progress!  But as we developed the idea, it went places I would never take it.  That was a little less fun.  But part of collaborating is having that fresh mindset and seeing beyond your own point of view, right?  Right.  

It got later.  She presented me with a host of ideas for the main character that, if I saw them on the back of a book cover, I'd put it back on the shelf and look for something better.  I knew, even in my tired and grumpy state, that "better" really translates into "more my taste," but tired for me translates into bitchy, so I think I just projected, "You're wrong."  Lucky for our friendship, if not for my mood, being sleepy becomes being silly for Julie, so the ideas she gave got more and more humorously away from what we were trying to do, but she never told me to go to hell.

Sleep came to our rescue.  In the morning, destructive personality quirks were gone and we were able to get down to business; for me, that meant I could articulate the flaws I saw in certain things and stop holding on to others that kept my world from becoming ours.  After a few hours, magic happened--we'd type the same thing at the same time, like old friends who knew each other's mind.  Then we were back to negotiating, 'cause this stuff isn't easy.


10 comments:

dannigrrl said...

A friend and I were tossing ideas about collaborating on an epistolary novel. I would write letters and diary entries from one POV and he would do the other. It sounded simple enough.....unfortunately it died in creative hell. It's hard to reconcile plot ideas when you want to go in different directions. I think it's amazing that you found a way to work through some of that. Best of luck!

Julie said...

Heh, we worked it out so much that we have the "bigger" ideas all in place and just need to start the outline (my job with input). Unfortunately I also have to work on my WIP, so... that is the priority today, but I'm gonna start the outline soon. Like today or tomorrow. And this is all in the matter of 3 days of talking about it. It's very exciting.

It was a lot of fun, even the stupid ideas I came up with on Friday night when my brain shut down to half of one cylinder firing and 1/3 speed.

I think we're on to something that will be a serious amount of fun and might even turn into something good. But good is for the revisions. The first draft is all about getting the words out :)

An Again said...

Please note that I did not say her late night ideas were stupid, only that she got silly. And, for the record, she said it first!

Thanks for the luck, Danni. It's too soon to think it'll all be smooth sailing from here on out, but working for us is that we do want to get to the same place, even if we're inclined to take the characters across different routes to get there. (She makes me giggle, and I'm not the kinda chick who giggles. Ever. That'll take us a long way.)

LoganO_Kellam1 said...
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Diane Girard said...

I've never colloborated on fiction and hope that you will be very successful.

My only collaborative experience did not work out. I had an idea for a humour book and worked on it with someone I won't name. In the end, she vanished - so because we had an informal written agreement, the book vanished too. I felt obliged to drop the work because I wasn't the sole writer, although I had contributed almost all of the writing, she had contributed a little.

dbreynolds said...

Oooooh. I suspect I'm too much of a control freak to collaborate on writing. I'd be willing to give it a go, but ...

SusanKMann said...

I'm still new to writing and haven't ever collaborated with anyone. I may give it a go at somepoint. x

Angela Addams said...

Bravo for you! I've never collaborated with anyone...although I have friends who like to throw it out there every once in a while...you know, "we should write something together..." Nope, not for me. I'm the lone wolf kind of writer! But all the power to you...sounds like an interesting project!

韋于倫成 said...

Well done!.......................................................

嘉承翰剛 said...
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