Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? - Part 1
As you all know by now, I've been working on not one but two different collaborations. The first is "The Pass" a historical/fantasy piece with a fellow I went to high school with some 30 years ago, Richard Caminiti. (for the sake of privacy, I left the clipboard showing his name and arrest number from this police photo out - JUST KIDDING!) Actually it's not really a mug shot, but I couldn't resist using this shot because the expression on his face is so serious. Of course I'm going to get an earful later for this, but that's what friends are for, right?
The other is another installment in my Para-Earth Series, titled "The Misty Mountains", with my wife Helen Krummenacker. Note: DEFINITELY NOT A MUG SHOT!
Okay, now that I got that bit of silliness out of my system, lets get back to today's topic namely the discussing more challenges one faces with a collaboration.
Now in Rich's case, the biggest challenge the two of us faced was the distance between us. Now, I'm not talking about ideas or suggestions, we're actually pretty good on that front. I'm talking physical, geographical distance. Rich lives over in North Carolina, whereas I live on west coast of California. So how do we make our collaboration work? Simple use the following:
Rich and I Skype on a weekly basis, sharing ideas we've come up with and give each other feedback on what the other has added to the story that week. Then through Dropbox, we share the document, going in whenever we have a chance and add new scenes, ideas, etc. However, we always read what the other has added first. We've gotten into the habit of hi-lighting new sections in different colors so we both know who added new material. This way each of us has a good idea of the feel and mood of a particular scene before adding our own touches to it.
Now for the most part this has been relatively easy because we each created certain characters for this book, and they fall mostly under the respective creator's control. Plus there are many scenes where these characters are not in the same scene, allowing each of us to add to the overall story by having each one learn more information about the greater mystery and threat, which will bring everyone together in the end.
However, we also borrow each other's characters for certain scenes we've discussed on Skype and consult back and forth on whether or not the characters behaviors are consistent. Admittedly, this kind of system means it takes us a while to get a story completed, but Rich works full-time, and I've been studying at university, so neither of us have all the time in the world to simply sit and write. Plus there are times where one or the other of us is hitting a wall and needs help. This is where our Skype sessions and e-mails become a great asset. We can help each other out by figuring out where the blockage is coming from, does an area need to be rewritten or cut out, etc. For us, the old adage of "two heads are better than one" really gives us an advantage. Plus, we are very much on the same page for where this story is heading overall. But at the same time, by not always telling the other what we've got planned in a scene, it allows both the other author the surprise and excitement the reader will enjoy, as well as firing up the imagination to build upon this new material.
Again, this is where our weekly Skype sessions come in extremely handy. We can congratulate or raise questions if something in the scene did not seem to make sense, and together we can correct and move things forward. Both Rich and I are very agreeable, but we also trust one another to raise questions or concerns about certain points and whether or not it is working for this particular story. We are already planning on more collaborations and sometimes remove a section to be used in a later work. After all, you can only cram so many ideas into one book without confusing the hell out of the reader, so we try to be careful about that.
So now we drift over to another set of questions, such as what about my other collaboration?
How does a writing with the person I'm living with work for a joint project? Do you agree on everything? Are your writing styles compatible? How do you find a mutual voice you can agree on? What do you do to avoid hurt feelings?
I'll cover these and other issues in my next installment. Until then, take care and keep writing.
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