Collaborative Fiction Writing

Has anyone tried to co-author a story? I thought about this today – what would it be like to try to negotiate a group of characters, a setting, major plot elements, and so on with another person?

I listened to Writing Excuses several months ago (maybe a year ago? If I had Internet access I could check!), and in the episode the hosts were hammering out a story idea (a tidally-locked world in which one culture was in perpetual darkness and the other was in perpetual daylight, as I recall). The process was very interesting to me, and I thought it would be interesting to try.

But not knowing anyone else who wanted to write fiction for fun, and not really having time to spend on such a project anyway, I didn’t do anything with the idea.

And now it returns, in my evening in Hornepayne, because I have time. Tonight, at least. Of course, I can’t actually collaborate tonight since I’m not connected, so this is more of a thought experiment than an actual proposal.

Outlining

I like to outline a story before I write it, even a very short story. I like to plan it out and then just fill in the prose. I think my stories are better if I take the time to do this, and it seems those stories are more likely to be completed anyway. The stories I’ve written “organically” or by “discovery writing” tend to be terrible; maybe they just need more post-writing effort.

But collaborating on an outline (I’m imagining this in a Google Doc or Spreadsheet) sounds pretty difficult. Maybe a Hangout would be a better way; this feels like it would be best done live, not asynchronously.

World-Building

If you’re creating a world, or even just a local context, the details are really important. How do you make sure both/all of the authors have a consistent knowledge of the environment, history, circumstances, …? You have to record it all, no?

Characters

When I watch a movie adaptation of a novel I’ve read, the characters are never quite as I envisioned them from reading. Sometimes this is because the director/casting director/whoever has departed from the author’s vision (Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher?!?), but sometimes it’s just that my interpretation of the character is flawed or incomplete. How difficult would it be for multiple authors to settle on characters together?

Star Trek, etc.

I used to read a lot of Star Trek novels, which were written by several authors (one at a time, though). They had a world to write inside of, with history, existing characters, and even future arcs to consider. I imagine that would be both easier and harder in some ways. Wouldn’t collaborating on a story have similar advantages and difficulties?

Maybe someday

This isn’t something I’m going to do right now. I’m just thinking out loud about it, and maybe I’ll return to it someday when I have fewer projects on my plate. If you’ve written with someone else before, or have thoughts about what I would be like, I’d be interested to hear about it.

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One thought on “Collaborative Fiction Writing

  1. I haven’t Co-authored any books but have always been interested with the idea, mainly because I can’t seem to grasp the basics, trouble is I have tons of ideas ha. I don’t know if you can reply to this but if you can then maybe we could share ideas?

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