Collaborative Fiction 101
destroyed asked: advice for writers attempting a collab?
Upon researching a bit, I’ve come to the conclusion doing a collaboration is a lot like roleplaying (from what I’ve seen on tumblr). Basically, it is a written work created by multiple people together rather than individually.
The major, big, important key to collaborative fiction is communication.
I know, shocking. To successfully collaborate with someone you have to communicate with them and establish/discuss any ideas you all have in mind. Because if you guys aren’t in the same page, it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.
There are different ways to do collabs.
Some are more structured than others. Some are “you do this, I do that”: getting a highly structured plot, dividing the work and each doing it on their own. Some are more dynamic, where simultaneous communication is a major tool. That is, talking while writing. We’re going to focus on this one.
In be beginning.
Have an idea. Share it. Brainstorm with your partner/s
in crime and get excited about said idea. Talk about background story, development, major plot points and structure. Sure, you don’t have to plan every single thing that happens, there’s no fun in that.
The preference for creative fiction is Google Documents. Google Docs allows you to create a shared word processing document that multiple people can edit at the same time.
Email is another effective method, whether in the content of the email itself or just to forward back and forth a saved document that the other person can add to and then save and send back. Even Forum Private-Messages can be used for this, as can chat programs. Basically any application that lets both you and another person contribute to a piece of writing is usable (though obviously some are easier than others, at least when it comes to editing later on).
Pick a similar style.
Your work needs to blend with your co-authors and vice-versa to appear seamless to the readers. This can be revised during edition.
Etiquette of Shared Writing
Don’t type over each other – Either use a chat program to say “ok, your turn now”, or type a little note at the bottom that says “I’m done, you take over for awhile.”
Talk about any major changes you want to make – If you think a paragraph would be better served moved somewhere else within writing that you yourself have done, this is less important, but major flow changes can screw up later dialogue, so at least warn the other person.
If you need help with something, hilight it and keep writing. The beauty of internet documents is that the other writer can come in and look at it/fix it up!
What collaboration is not
It is not editing. Collaborating does not mean having someone else help you with your story. It’s working on a story together. Collaboration requires that two or more people have to be actively contributing to the story- that is, a group effort, rather than getting help with a solo effort.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve never done collabs, so, as always, if anyone has information they’d like to share, submit!