Posts Tagged ‘collaborative’

100th Post Celebration

Tada!  100 posts!  Not too shabby for me and the Landsquid.  In celebration, I give you the top 5 posts thus far:

Collaborative Writing – Characters
Writing with a Partner – Collaborative Editing
What Would You Put on a List of the 100 Best Scifi/Fantasy Books?
Of Sleep Deprivation and Haiku

Give me some feedback, Squiders.  Would you like me to post more often?  Less often?  (Currently I’m on a MWF schedule.)  Topics you’d like me to cover?  Topics you’d like me not to cover?  How do you like the drawings?





Collaborative Writing – Characters

It’s been very interesting working on a collaborative novel.  One of the most interesting things I’ve found, though, is how characters have worked.

We each have a viewpoint character.  I think a lot of collaborative novels work this way, at least all the ones I can think of off the top of my head do – Good Omens, Dogs and Goddesses, Sorcery and Cecilia, Agnes and the Hitman, etc.  In our case, these are established characters; they each have at least a previous novel under their belts, which was kind of nice, because we were already familiar with their characterizations and personalities before we started.

So you have your own character, and then you have your partner’s character whom you don’t know as well and have to try not to mess up.  When we started, a lot of times after we’d finished a scene, the other person would have to go through and fix dialogue and motivations or things we’d forgotten.  (I think we both managed to forget that my character wears glasses for the entire middle of the book.)

But, as the story went on, less corrections were needed.  Eventually we got to the point where, if any fixes were needed at all, it was a tweak here or there or something plot-related and not character-related at all.  I’m not sure if we just picked up the other person’s character well enough over time or if the characters evolved to fit the story.  It is a mystery.

When we’re done with this, I’d like to try another story, with new characters, and see if it works the same way or if it’s easier/harder from the beginning.

Any experience with collaborative stories?  How’d you find the characterization worked?

Writing with a Partner – Collaborative Editing

To continue our discussion from last week (tl;dr – writing with a partner is awesome, assuming you find the right partner), this week I am going to discuss the theory of editing collaboratively.

I say theory because I have not done this.  Sure, I’ve edited anthologies and other group projects, but that’s still very much an individual sort of thing – at least in my experience, you’re assigned a story, you edit it, you send it back to the author or some central person – not a lot of interaction.

But this is different.  This is something that we have equal shares in.  You can’t really break up a novel and say “okay, you edit this part and I’ll edit this part.”  All that will get you is incoherence and discord.

By myself, I edit like so (note: this only works for books with chapters – books without chapters like Hidden Worlds tend to involve more re-reading and a ridiculous amount of post-it notes).  However, here’s how I imagine a dual editing process would go (my lovely partner Sarah is welcome to tell me I am crazy.  I do not know what her usual editing process is).

I imagine first off we’d both do an overall read through to determine overarching plot issues.  And then I imagine we would discuss our findings and determine a path forward.  We are nothing if not cooperative.

From there, I see things getting tricky.  We switch off, scene by scene, between our characters.  What if some scenes need to be cut out?  It will ruin our back and forth.  There will be CHAOS and DESTRUCTION.

I just like capital letters.

Where to go from there?  I imagine we might divvy up the parts that need to be fixed based on which character’s viewpoint it fits best in and then go through an iterative process of rewriting and discussing until we’re happy with how things have turned out.

And then we can re-read it again and repeat the whole process.

I wonder if it’ll be more or less frustrating working on something together as opposed to going it alone.

Anyone ever edited a collaborative story?  How’d you do it?  How’d it go?

Writing with a Partner – A Discussion on Collaborative Writing

Once upon a time, I read Sorcery and Cecilia by the lovely Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.  If you haven’t read this, you are missing out.  It is marvelous.

It’s an epistolary novel, meaning each person writes letters as their characters and there is no plotting with each other.

Anyway, I got to thinking that I would like to write with someone else.  At first, I tried epistolaries myself.  The first got, oh, four letters in.  We were writing and sending real letters through the mail.  On one hand, real mail!  On the other hand, it was slow and then you didn’t have a copy of what you’d written.  Fail.

Second attempt went better.  A friend and I wrote through private messages to each other on a writing community.  We got maybe 20K words in before someone hacked the forum and we lost 10-12 letters.  Pros: Could get through several letters in a day, could see both sides of the conversation.  We didn’t feel like trying to rewrite so many letters, so we let the project die and I later re-wrote the entire story by myself.

At this point, I came to a revelation.  I was not Patricia Wrede.  My friends were not Caroline Stevermer.  The likelihood of us somehow managing to write a cohesive story through letters without talking to each other was probably never going to happen.  With the above example, I remember having a plot line in my head and trying to steer my partner to it through the letters, but it was like herding landsquid.  (Landsquid hate being herded and they are grumpy.  I do not recommend trying.)  We were on different pages and there was no way to say “I want to go this direction” without breaking the epistolary rules.

So, time to try something else.

A few months later, mid-2007 or so, Script Frenzy launched.  I’d had never written a screenplay but I thought it might be fun, so I recruited a writing friend to work on it with me.  It proved to be a rewarding experience, and we’ve been writing on and off together since.  (Not on screenplays, though.  That went in a drawer and hasn’t come out since.)

We’ve written a variety of ways – epistolary (though true plottiness still eludes me), alternating character viewpoints with each of us writing one character, and a neutral viewpoint that we both wrote.

While I still prefer to write alone on most projects, I’ve found this to be a rewarding experience.  When we get stuck, we can bounce ideas off each other.  We can catch POV errors and typoes for each other.  We can challenge each other to new heights.  (Plus she always lets me write the horribly embarrassing parts. ♥)

Not to say it always goes smoothly.  When something goes wrong in one person’s life we’re both in limbo.  We’ve gotten into fights about story direction, character issues, plot holes.   Luckily we’re fairly compatible so even after we’ve had to take a step back we can usually work out some sort of compromise and move forward.

Overall, I would say that the bonuses of working collaboratively outweigh the negative.

Have you written with a partner?  Would you do it again?

Discuss how interest in it started, how things have gone, etc.