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Author Topic: Co-Writing: how does it work?  (Read 2403 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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Co-Writing: how does it work?
« on: May 05, 2015, 08:02:27 PM »
I'm curious about this, as I think writing is such a personal and private experience.
Knowing that Raptori and Saurus write everything together made me wonder.

How does it work? one with ideas, the other with the actual words? split paragraphs? changing things in the background?
I've heard that some books get written by different authors in split chapters, but that doesn't apply on short stories.
And isn't there always the temptations to change something the other has written, 'just because it feels better like this'?
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2015, 08:07:01 PM »
I think we're a bit of an unusual situation really, I doubt most co-writing works the way ours does.

We both have almost identical speech patterns, agree on pretty much everything, have similar interests and so on, which apparently makes it it's practically impossible for people to tell which of us they're talking to on IM or when reading notes, so I think that carries over into the writing. Perhaps it's a side-effect of being together for so long and working together on so many different things... :)


We develop ideas together by just talking things through, often while walking dogs together or stuff like that, and it works brilliantly for both of us. Since there's two of us it makes it a lot easier to spot flaws at that stage and make sure everything's logical and all that, and we can evolve everything really quickly.

Once we've got enough to go on, one of us writes a quick first draft. If there's a bit that doesn't feel right or isn't flowing properly while writing the other person gives advice, then after it's done we do a series of edits together.

Generally it means that we have little to change after our first drafts (both of the two recent stories were almost completely unchanged after the first draft, just a couple of details here and there), so the whole thing doesn't take all that long.
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Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2015, 08:16:27 PM »
For me, co-writing works best when I do everything and the other person just sits and watches. Because I am a massive control freak.

Strangely enough, I don't co-write very often.
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 08:18:26 PM »
For me, co-writing works best when I do everything and the other person just sits and watches. Because I am a massive control freak.

Strangely enough, I don't co-write very often.
Or the other way round when the other person does everything and you sit there and do nothing (besides getting the credit for it). I think everybody knows this from student projects...
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Offline Rukaio_Alter

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 08:21:20 PM »
For me, co-writing works best when I do everything and the other person just sits and watches. Because I am a massive control freak.

Strangely enough, I don't co-write very often.
Or the other way round when the other person does everything and you sit there and do nothing (besides getting the credit for it). I think everybody knows this from student projects...
What? No, I'd never be able to do that. The other person would get it all wrong. That's why I've got to do it. Did I not mention the whole 'massive control freak' thing?
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 08:24:02 PM »
Thanks Raptori, that's really interesting to read!!!

For me, co-writing works best when I do everything and the other person just sits and watches. Because I am a massive control freak.

Strangely enough, I don't co-write very often.
Or the other way round when the other person does everything and you sit there and do nothing (besides getting the credit for it). I think everybody knows this from student projects...
What? No, I'd never be able to do that. The other person would get it all wrong. That's why I've got to do it. Did I not mention the whole 'massive control freak' thing?
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« Last Edit: May 06, 2015, 07:54:54 AM by ScarletBea »
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Offline xiagan

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 08:39:09 PM »
For me, co-writing works best when I do everything and the other person just sits and watches. Because I am a massive control freak.

Strangely enough, I don't co-write very often.
Or the other way round when the other person does everything and you sit there and do nothing (besides getting the credit for it). I think everybody knows this from student projects...
What? No, I'd never be able to do that. The other person would get it all wrong. That's why I've got to do it. Did I not mention the whole 'massive control freak' thing?
I didn't mean specifically you, just that the other type exists as well and (if you are not a control freak) that can be annoying as hell.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2015, 11:58:51 PM »
I've heard Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner talk about how they co-wrote their YA sci-fi trilogy, which has two POV characters - they wrote one each for first draft, and then worked together on revisions and overall smoothing. Coming as I do from a role-playing / collab storytelling background, that seems to make sense to me as a means of construction, but I have to say I find it a tiny bit stilted in reading the final product. (I'm not a fan of the switcheroo two narrators anyway; it's probably one of the reasons I don't read more romance.)

On a more personal level, I co-wrote a novel with my best friend when we were both sixteen. (It was about as good as you'd expect, but hey, it kept us off the streets...) Mostly this was done by us sitting down together - me at the keyboard because my typing was faster. Sometimes we'd discuss in detail what should happen in a scene, then I'd write it and we'd both go over it. I'm not sure I could do that any more, because it was a very slow way of working. On the other hand, always having someone to turn to for help who really understood the story was a great help!

Offline Elfy

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2015, 01:10:13 AM »
I think various writers do it differently. There have been some very successful duos: L. Sprague De Camp and Fletcher Pratt with the Harold Shea stories, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, the best known and possibly most successful were David and Leigh Eddings. I like what Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede did with the first of the Kate and Cecy books. It began as a version of the letter game and the book was written in epistolary form, so they each picked a character and wrote letters from that character back and forth to each other, then fashioned it into a book.
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Offline Nora

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 02:21:19 AM »
My only co writing was in the form of an exquisite cadaver. I receive some lines of story and pick them up, push the story some more and then send my writing back, ect. It's a very interesting exercise because you can't plan ahead, the story definitely sounds like a two hand work, but mostly it's fun. You really share your characters and sometimes have to put up with where it all went.
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Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 09:50:44 AM »
The very idea of writing a book with someone else gives me the Fear. I'd actually have to explain my thought processes and early plans to another human being... *peels own face off with horror*

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Offline Saraband

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Re: Co-Writing: how does it work?
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2015, 10:07:27 AM »
I dread writing with someone else. Last year, some of my colleagues started working together in some scientific articles on medieval history - I politely refused two offers - and now most of them barely speak to each other. I heard from all sides, as things remained the same for me, and I realized that the simple use of too many commas or the lack of them was enough to create rifts between people.

So, I work on my own, and therefore I only have myself to hate  8)
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