How To Co-Write (Without Wanting To Strangle Your Fellow Writer)

Ah, co-writing. On one hand, you have two minds to cut down on writer's block. On the other, you have one person who wants to put dinosaurs into the story and the other who wants to make the entire thing about magical hairdressers, and then suddenly it's the Hunger Games between you two.


The lovely Charley R wrote a guest post on my blog about this idea, but I also wanted to put my own two cents into things. Co-Writing is one of the most fun things, but it can also be the most frustrating. It's a delicate balance, but there are a few things to make the balance tip more in your favor.

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1.) Game Plan! Game Plan! Game Plan!


Now, this doesn't mean you need to plot out every single little aspect of the thing you're writing. What this does mean is that you have to come up with some idea of how you're going to be writing your story. Is it going to be a back and forth thing where you write alternating chapters, or are you going to write a draft and then go back and change things together? Regardless of your writing plan, if you don't have a plan at all, your story will flop.

Figure out a basic arc that you're going to follow, If it helps, set goals/deadlines for chapters if you're the type to procrastinate (*guiltily raises hand*). It also really helps if you figure out your fellow writers's skills. Are they brilliant plot twisters? Do they have amazing dialogue? Can they create a hilarious character out of nothingness? Depending in their skill set, this can change the way your game plan gets carried out, and it can also help your story be better than it might have been originally.

2.) Share Yo Ideas (Talk To Other Human Beings. It's Not Scary)

You have to, have to, have to talk with the people you write with. It's no good to have your game plan and then decide to stray from the plan without running it by your co-writers. Some of us are more the type who write by the seat of our pants, while others thoroughly enjoy a good outline. Regardless, if you come up with a crazy idea that could make it amazing, you should definitely talk about it with your partners. You might think it's the most mind-boggling idea ever, and then you'll discuss it with your co-writers, who will either love it or say:


If they're against it, talk it over. Figure out what the faults in your original idea were, and maybe you'll be either have to scrap it or you'll be able to salvage it. Also, it really helps to get a clearer idea of what kind of story you want to tell if you talk it over with people. Sometimes you'll have this little itch of an idea that won't come to fruition unless you try to explain it to someone else and get a better grasp on it.

3.) Constant Vigilance (AKA Agree On Stuff To Prevent Plot Holes)

Okay. So you've talked big ideas over. But are you missing anything? (HINT: probably!)

Once you've finally started writing, you'll realize that there are some thing that just aren't clicking. Somewhere along the line, the main character who was supposed to be known for his acrobatic skills is suddenly working as a castle chef. What went wrong?


Somewhere along the line of you and your fellow writers creating your world, either a detail was forgotten, or a miscommunication happened. It might be something bigger than a small detail as well. Your antagonist's motives might have become warped into something that doesn't make sense anymore, or your sidekick suddenly goes missing without a good reason. This goes along with communication. If you notice a plot hole or something that doesn't make sense, you have to catch it, and catch it quickly. Although at the end of writing a novel there is bound to be editing, if you can catch a mistake earlier on, it makes the editing much easier, and gives your novel a solid ground to sit on.

4.) Be Daring (Shred Stuff If You Have To)

So you've gotten the meat of your novel finished. Huzzah! But now looking back, you can see that the talking flamingos just don't fit in. Don't be afraid to head over to your co-writers and bring up your concerns. If your story is about the courage of a boy going to the moon, and the flamingos were only there because you'd wanted to center the story about flamingos, but now they don't fit the plot anymore, it's okay to suggest them being cut from the story.

Cutting out large chunks of a story is terrifying, for solo writers and co-writers. But you just need to take a deep breath and go for it sometimes.


Take a bird's-eye view of the entire plot, the characters, etc., and cut out stuff that doesn't matter. Sit down as a pair/trio/quad and discuss what needs to change in the story. It could be small stuff, but you have to be willing to bring up even the most absurd ideas because those could be key to making your story focused on what you're trying to tell instead of filler details that you wanted in just for the sake of having them.

5.) Balancing Act (Share the Load, Man)

One of hardest parts about co-writing is figuring out a balance. Who's writing what, which person is going to take over certain parts of character development, and who's going to figure out when Jeffrey should make his first appearance, and how. Like I said earlier about finding your writers's strengths, you should for sure let those with the strengths really push those strengths. But that doesn't mean that only one person has to be forced to create witty dialogue just because they're good at it. If they're braindead and having an off day with writing, step up and share their load. The idea behind co-writing is that you have more minds to write with. It's not like those sad group projects at school where the smart person is forced to do all the work.

Figure out a balance that works for you and your writers. Divvy up the work in a way that makes sense, and then your writing will be far less intimidating than it was before.


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Well. I hope this helped you co-writers out there. I know writing with other people has its challenges, but it's also one of the most rewarding things too. Above all, have fun with your story and bring it to life.

That is all.

Cheers,
Seana

Comments

  1. I've not long found your blog, and I have to say, I love it. One of my favourite things to do before bed is to catch up on your blog (I really hope that doesn't sound creepy!). It's a really lovely and relaxing read. I look forward to more posts!
    -Cait xx
    Passionate-Mind.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi, Cait! (: I'm so flattered that you enjoy my blog so much! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you stick around for a good long while.

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  2. Funny story about all this:
    I have tried collaborating with just one other person twice. I've tried put together a three way collab once. None of those worked.
    But I seem to be able to collaborate with groups of nine or ten just fine. :P

    ~The Unstoppable Child

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    1. Haha, and we have experience with massive group projects with those Liam parties. (: I almost wonder if small group collabs are harder because it's hard to find middle ground with only a handful of unrelated ideas?

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    2. It might also be that we didn't do much planning with the Liam parties. This second time, we had at least a plot, but beyond that pfft!
      Also, I did end up asking Leinad to kind of get us back on track when it was his turn. And he did a marvelous job. Everyone did. :)

      ~TUC

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    3. During the first party, I also remember trying to wrangle the plot back in by asking people. Sometimes we get a wee bit distracted by plot bunnies as large groups. (:

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    4. Plot bunnies, plot bunnies! Wonderful plot bunnies!
      Such fun plot bunnies.
      A small and very irrational part of my brain is saying "Let's do it again!"

      ~TUC

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    5. I always love how they turn out even though it's crazy hectic trying to arrange the collabs. (: I do quite enjoy the plot bunnies though. They're so fluffy and full of irrelevant ideas!

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    6. It's just awesome how we manage to get all these irrelevant ideas to actually work together. Reason #72 why Phil Phorce Phan Phiction is a good idea.
      It is indeed chaotic to organize. :P

      ~TUC

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    7. Wow, we're already up to 72 reasons? Impressive. Fan fics can get a little sketch, and who knows where a Phan Phic would end up! (:

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    8. And that's Reason #73-- Anything can happen!

      ~TUC

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    9. We could probably write a novel about all of the many reasons.

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  3. Ha - love those Youtuber GIFs! I don't think I've ever done collabs unless for a school project or something - I should sometime.

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    1. Haha, I always look up YouTuber gifs when I'm trying to find good reaction gifs. (: You should go for a collab sometime! It wouldn't have to be anything crazy. Just grab a friend and go for it.

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