Monday, 25 February 2013


I've been a bad blogger recently - when I started this blog I intented to write every week, but I've only written one post this month, and it's already the 25th. But I have a legitimate excuse: I have been busy collaborating with some friends on a script for a modern day YouTube series of Les Mis. Whether or not we will ever finish this and convince anyone to film it aside, it is an awful lot of fun. So that other people can appreciate the fun of collaboration, I have made a list of hopefully helpful thoughts. Or perhaps even instructions. Really not sure.

  1. Find some people who are ridiculously enthusiastic about something you are ridiculously enthusiastic about.
    In our case this was Les Mis. And also shameless shipping. But it could be a genre, or a premise, or a character. If you're not all really excited about the idea one person will forever be dragging the others along, or nobody will care at all. If you are all really excited, basically, it will be really exciting.

  2. Choose a way to communicate and share your work.
    I loathe to say it, but Facebook groups are good. They have a file sharing function which allows you to upload revisions and make sure everyone is looking at the same version of things. Googledocs is probably better, because there's a lot less scrolling down and click 'Older Posts', and there is also a useful search function. There is, however, essentially no formatting, which can get awkward depending on what you're writing.
    Of course, you could just collaborate in person. But you still need a way to record what you've come up with, and make sure you all have access to it.

  3. Make sure everyone has the same copy of the work
    Like I said, this is easy to do on Facebook. It's also easy to do on Googledocs, beacuse what you're writing will all be in the one document, and you'll all see edits as they happen. But if you're e-mailing documents back and forth, you need to make sure that you're all working on the same thing, or people will end up wasting their time working on things that have already been written, or already been cut.

  4. Plan. Or at least plan how you're not going to plan.
    The first collaborative works I ever wrote were stories told in letters with my sister. The first person would write a letter - usually on the premise that they had to have a pen-pal as a school English assignment - and the second person would write a reply, knowing nothing other than what they'd read in the original letter. Basically, there was no planning required beyond deciding to write something together.
    If you don't have a format like this, you need to make a plan. That can mean laying out a full plot plan and delegating scenes, or it can just mean deciding who is going to write the next chapter, with no actually decisions about what will happen in the chapter. It really depends how much you want to be surprised by the plot, and how much control you each want to have over what happens. Either way, you need to have some idea of some combination what is being written, who's writing it, and when, or no writing will get done.

  5. Write down your ideas.
    This applies to all writing, not just collaboration, really. If you're having a conversation with your co-writers, or just come up with a brilliant idea by yourself, write it down. You might think you'll remember it, but you won't.
    The first comments in the Facebook group of our collaborative script at the moment go something like:
    Quick! Write down all the brilliant ideas we had before we forget them!"
    Um. Um. I DON'T REMEMBER. Probably I will remember once someone jogs my memory, but."
    And then there is a lot of frantically flailing while everyone remembers things. The moral of the story is, if you have a three-hour conversation about what you're writing, and nobody takes notes, then it will be bad.

  6. Share all your ideas
    Unless the premise of your collaboration relies of surprising your co-writers with plots, this is always a good idea. Before I started writing this collaborative script, I was working on something similar by myself. And basically, because I had the good ideas of one or two people, rather than five or six, it was comparitively mediocre. But now, even if I have what I think is a good but unworkable idea, rather than just disregarding it, I tell everyone, and they make it workable. This is the great thing about collaboration, and you should definitely appreciate it.

Thanks for reading! Do you have any tips for collaborating on writing projects?

1 comment:

  1. LOL. Don't be offended if one of your collaborators thinks an idea is bupkis. =)

    And on blogging, no worries about posting every week. Find a schedule that works for you, and calendar it out. I've had seasons where I blogged once a month, then twice, then every week, even times when I posted 2 to 3 times each week with regularity. (And I'm back to once a week.) You have to do what fits with your life, and according to psychologists, it takes 21 to 28 days to establish a habit. Let's frame that in "blog terms" and call it 21 to 28 posts. =) So nice to meet you!