Friday, March 8, 2013

Co-Writing, or, What time is it in Alaska?

You guys, co-writing is so much fun. It's also so much responsibly, but we'll take care of the fun first. 

1. That crazy idea you have? Well, now you've got someone to bounce it back and forth with, until it turns into something workable. 

2. Hello, built-in beta-reader! Here's someone who will pick you up on your dumb mistakes and ask you where you think this scene is going, before you've waded so far into the quagmire of your own words that you can no longer extricate yourself. 

3. Momentum. This is a biggie for me. The momentum is so much easier to hold onto when there's someone else working on a story with you. It ties a little into the responsibility factor, but it's also fun to get that ball rolling and keep it rolling, so I've put it here first. 

So now the responsibility: 

1. You can't shelve this project when it gets too tricky, because it's not just yours. You've got someone counting on you now, so stop looking at pictures of lolcats and get to work. 

2. Negotiation. Of everything. Characters, names, locations, plot points, and scenes. You will negotiate everything, and you will get damned good at it. On the plus side, this will make it so much easier to deal with editors and publishers when the time comes. 

3. Learning new skills. With my pseudonym's first co-written project, neither of us knew what we were doing. So we brainstormed via email, and sent our Word doc back and forth. But not this time. This time I'm working with a co-writer who has actually done this before, and it's all about instant messaging on AIM, and Google docs. Which has been fun. I particularly like Google docs. Look! I've got it open on my screen and words are magically appearing! 

Which reminds me, what time is it in Alaska? Because I want to chat. 

And in the spirit of learning new things, I'm now working with someone who calls herself a pantser, but is more of a plotter than I am. Have you guys all seen the Nine Grid Plan? I've been forced to use it and guess what? I like it! It simple, and it makes sense! 

Here is a link to Cassandra Marshall's blog, where she talks about the Nine Grid Plan. 

Check it out. You'll thank me for it later. Unless you already knew about it, in which case you'll point and laugh at me for being so slow on the uptake. 

So if you haven't tried co-writing before, why not? Why not approach one of your fellow writers and bloggers, and ask if they want to give it a try? You'll be surprised at how much you learn, and how much fun you have. 


  1. I tried it once, and it's everything you said - the tossing ideas back and forth, the momentum, the fun of setting up a scene and seeing where they take it.

    And yes, the negotiation. I thought the big scene would take place in the castle, but she wanted them galloping off to the seaside. And lo and behold, that scene on the docks and where it led to were perfect.

    And never heard of the Nine Girdle Plan, but I'm off to read that now!

    1. It's great, isn't it? And so amazing to compromise on something and then find out it works better that way anyway!

  2. I've never co-written before. The opportunity hasn't come up. It does sound like it would be a good experience to share writing with someone.

    And I've already heard of the nine-grid plan. I have a copy of it in the notes for my MS.

    1. Co-writing is lots of fun, and gives you a whole new approach to writing. Well it did that for me!

      And the nine grid plan is simple enough for even a pantser like myself to work out.



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