Post #27 – Collaboration

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6/28/18

Last Sunday, I organized a workshop for the Northern Virginia chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. The topic was collaboration. My friend, and established author, Bria Burton graciously agreed to be the speaker. She has collaborated on four themed anthologies with The Alvarium Experiment. The fourth, titled The Prometheus Saga 2, will be released July 27.

I took the idea for a workshop on collaboration from Collaborators by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. As a sci-fi author, I first encountered Anderson’s work writing in the Star Wars universe. In addition to his own novels, he’s since dived into the Dune universe and written at least 13 books (and probably more) with Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert, finishing Frank’s original series and providing the backstory to that universe. He additional has collaborated with his wife, Rebecca Moesta, as well as Doug Beason and Dean Koontz.

Anderson postulates there are five main types of author collaboration. These are:

1) The Full Monty where both authors contribute the same amount of effort and develop every step of the project together.

2) Round-Robin Method where Author A writes the first section or chapter. Then Author B writes the next section or chapter, and so on back-and-forth.

3) First Draft, Last Draft where the authors discuss the project initially and agree on the basic story line, characters, setting, etc. Author A writes the first draft, and Author B edits, fleshes out, and does a final polish of the manuscript. In The Science Fiction Professional, sci-fi author Mike Resnick confirms he uses this technique frequently when collaborating. Of course, at this point in his career, Resnick is Author B.

4) Master and Apprentice which is similar to First Draft, Last Draft. Here the two authors consist of an established writer and a new writer. The two authors develop the story’s outline together, which the Master approves. Then the Apprentice writes the first draft. However, instead of conducting a full edit, the Master offers comments on the draft and gives suggestions and brainstorms solutions to address weak spots. This method is designed as more of a mentoring experience and a way to give the Apprentice a leg up in the industry by contributing the Master’s name to the work.

5) Ghostwriting where one author usually is silent and yet does all the work. The ghostwriter’s name may or may not appear on the work. This is seen often when celebrities decide to write. It’s also seen when an established writer no longer desires to continue a series he/she created or is no longer able to continue the series due to death. V.C. Andrews is a prime example.

Anderson also points out the numerous reasons for collaborating. These include gaining additional expertise, splitting the workload, having a new learning experience, for fun, and to build your carrier. He also cautions there are pitfalls to collaborating. If collaborators do not choose each other wisely, they may never speak, let alone work, together again.

Having never collaborated on a fictional piece (I collaborate almost every day on nonfiction pieces for work), I enjoyed hearing about Bria’s experiences. I’ve mentioned before I’d like to collaborate with one of my beta readers. I believe our strengths and weaknesses are complementary. I write dialogue well, while she’ll be the first to tell you that’s not her strong suit. She is better at establishing the settling, which I struggle with. I’m hoping together we can pull our strengths and develop a great story.

I have just such a story in mind. It’s my next project after hammering out the novella I mentioned last week, the submission window for which will close August 13. I’m hoping once I commit to this project here, it’ll be a done deal. I’ve already worked out the plot points. I just need to get them on the screen.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever collaborated with another author and what the result was. Are you still speaking to each other?

Photo credit: diannehope14 via Pixabay

Post #12 – Where Do I Write?

3/15/18

Supposedly, every writer needs their own sanctuary for writing. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, at least not all the time. Before I get to where I write, let’s look at where some other writers write.

In On Writing, Stephen King says he writes in a spacious, skylighted study that’s a converted stable loft at the rear of his house in Maine. He once had a giant oak desk in the middle of the room. After sobering up, he got rid of that desk and replaced it with a desk half the size. It sits in one corner of the room under an eave. King prefers to write with no outside stimuli, not even a window with a view. He does listen to rock music, though, such as AC/DC.  Seems like outside stimuli to me.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch states in The Freelancer’s Survival Guide she has two offices.  The one where she writes is devoid of all external communication. No internet, no phone, no TV. She even has a separate laptop to write on in there with no internet browser or games installed. Her second office is where she communicates with the outside work, i.e. email, twitter, phone, etc. She likes to listen to classical music while writing.

Kevin J. Anderson lives in Colorado and is an avid hiker. He takes a handheld recorder with him on hikes and dictates chapters that he later has transcribed. I assume he then sits somewhere at a computer to edit.

Ironically, I didn’t start writing until after the birth of my youngest daughter. Guess whose room formerly was the office? The office desk is now downstairs in the family room where it’s cold and dark. And the back of the chair isn’t comfortable, though that hasn’t changed.

I’ve done most of my writing at the kitchen table or the bar top separating the kitchen and dining room. This is less than ideal. I can’t leave my laptop there because it’s also where I eat. If I write in the mornings before the family awakes, I’m afraid the light will hasten their getting up, which would result in zero productivity. If I write in the evenings, my wife probably feels she can’t watch Hulu or listen to music without disturbing me because of the open floor plan of our dining room and living room. If I write during nap times on the weekends, productivity again is an issue unless my wife takes our oldest daughter out somewhere since she rarely naps any more.  Still, I’ve managed to be fairly productive.

I’ve also written a bunch while traveling for work. Though I only have 3-4 business trips a year, I use the travel time to write.  Some of my most productive periods are while on a plane or train. I enjoy writing then so much I get annoyed (unreasonably so) when I must take a red-eye because I need to sleep instead of write.

I even began my first stories while on a business trip. On a Sunday before the start of a conference, I sat poolside that afternoon finally putting words on the screen, though I had to sit in the shade to see my screen. Regardless, it wasn’t a terrible way to start this adventure.

Like Rusch, I too enjoy listening to classical music, though usually only when I need to drown out external noise. My preference is more for movie soundtracks. Anything with words distracts me.

Let me know in the comments where you write.