Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing Tip #19 – Choosing a writing partner, or not?

This is a topic I’ve been churning over for months. You see, I’ve written five novels and two screenplays all by my lonesome, with little or no input from anyone else. But a few months ago I teamed up with a writing partner, Ed, to write a new screenplay. Collaborating on a story has been an interesting experience, both rewarding and frustrating.

The idea for the story was purely mine. I approached Ed to work with me on it because he has a great deal of knowledge about how to best structure a script, and how to structure each scene. He is good at structure; I’m good at creating a compelling story. It seemed like a match made in heaven, but the results have been mixed.

So over the past few months, we’ve created character profiles, a theme statement, a log line, a high level outline, plot points, and thirty pages of script. (about 25% of a full script). He has now focused on completing a medium level outline while I am pounding out the script itself.

The work has moved along at a slower pace than I’m used to, but I’m ok with that because the script is reading really good so far, and I’m sure it will take much less rewriting than I’m used to. And I must say that his input into the story, the structure, and the script have made it a better read than I would have done by this stage in the project. Bottom line: it’s a much better work because of our collaboration.

So where is the rub? I’ll tell you. Because I must respect and allow his input into the story, it has changed from what I originally had intended. That’s not a bad thing, because it is a better story. The problem is, that I’m not nearly as motivated to write this new story, simply because it is no longer my story. I don’t have the same passion for it. Hence, I’ve been avoiding working on it, and it feels like work, not something I do for pleasure.

The upside is, I’m learning tons about structuring a script, not to mention that the script is very good. But I’m losing interest in it day by day. I’ve already begun another script that will be purely mine.

So, when selecting a writing partner, I have two suggestions. First, be sure that you’re willing to write someone else’s story, because it won’t be totally your own once you take on a partner. Second, choose someone that will complement your weaknesses, someone you can learn from. That way, even if you don’t finish the project, you will become a better writer.

1 comment:

Jude Mason said...


Hi Alan. This doesn't sound like a partnership made in Heaven, or anywhere close to it.

I think you know, I write with a partner for a good deal of my work at the moment, and we've been really good together. We seem to have tackled it a little differently than you and Ed. Jenna and I were friends before we decided to try writing together. We talked and promised each other that if things got difficult, we'd simply drop the joint writing and remain friends. That was number 1 for us.

Okay, that done, we tackled our first series together. We worked on it together, right from the first word. We determined what genre we wanted to try, what heat level, where we'd submit it, all of it. Jenna and I compliment each others styles. She writes fantastic, gripping endings, I'll grab you at the beginning. I write hot sex, she can carry a story line beautifully.

Perhaps you need to back up a step and, if Ed is the partner you'd like to work with, come up with a story line together. Make it belong to both of you. It's just a thought and I've found it really works for us.

(Ya know, I feel like a dufus trying to give you advice. Sheesh!)

Great post