Night Phlox

My foolish dreams

Collaborative writing

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I hope that this blog post results in an exciting new writing project, not only for me but for a close friend of mine. I’ve been trying to coax him into finishing a novel he started 2 or 4 years ago, but clearly he has too much of a life to do so. That’s why it surprised me when he suggested that we start writing something together; a collaboration.

The phrase ‘collaborative writing’ immediately made me think of those brilliantly silly 3-word stories on many forums, such as this one on GW2Guru. Perhaps we could extend this idea so that each of us writes a chapter each before passing it along? As fun as it sounded, I soon realised that this approach would lead to next-to-no structure in whatever emerged as an end product.

My friend’s suggestion was a lot more sensible. Each of us would work on two separate stories in the same world which would overlap at some point, and from then on we’d split the chapters, staying with each of our main characters throughout. This way, many of the structural problems highlighted above are eliminated. We could each create a character or story that we feel confident with, and gradually ease them together; resulting in a much more organised storyline.

Some problems still remain:

  1. How much planning do we need to do in advance? Will our characters have to follow very specific paths in order for the overall story to make sense, or will each of us have the creative freedom that we want?
  2. The weighting of the story would be very difficult to get right. Have the meeting too early and the collaboration will lack structure later on, but by having it too late there is a risk that the individual storylines will overwhelm the second part of the novel.
  3. What happens after the merging of storylines? Will the meeting be of enough significance that the characters ‘travel’ together from then on, or will they go their separate ways again? The first option could lead to wandering storylines, unless planned in advance, and the second would reduce the significance of the meeting.

The collaboration seems like it will be very tricky to balance. Nonetheless, I am very excited about the prospect of writing alongside someone else. We each have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing. He writes much more naturally, and is great with similes and clever symbolism. Furthermore, he finds it much easier to bring characters and settings to life than I do. I might describe a location, but his writing takes you there. I prefer to write in third person perspective, whereas he seems very comfortable writing in first person; how we will compromise there remains to be seen.

I can’t wait to begin the initial planning process. I would love to branch out into other genres of writing, just to see if I’m capable of it.

If this project goes well, I’d like to blog about every aspect of its progress; posting chapters as we go.

Now, all I have to do is spam the URL to this blog post to him until he starts getting excited about it himself.


Written by Freya

Saturday 6th August 2011 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Collaboration

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. […] I wrote this blog post on collaborative writing I did not think the project would go very far. I thought I would end up […]

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