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Leukman
05-29-2009, 09:25 PM
Okay, I admit, I know nothing about how this could work.

I've had a friend approach me with a rather viable concept for a thriller. I love the idea and want to pursue it. He's approached me because he doesn't really know anything about writing or how to go about trying to see something published (I don't even know if he CAN write, or to what degree).

With a handful of brief conversations, we’ve together advanced the concept and story-line, so technically we’re already co-owners of the ideas in their present form.

Should I be scared? :Wha:

What are the logistics of such an arrangement?
What's common practice for the creation process in writing partnerships?
Do both individuals write and edit each other's work?
How to you maintain a consistent voice throughout the MS?

What questions am I not asking that I should be?

I would be most grateful for input from anyone with experience or knowledge of writing partnerships.

Thanks!

:D

Phaeal
05-29-2009, 09:55 PM
Haven't done this myself, though I'm trying to persuade my writing soul-mate to join me in a series.

I'd go to http://www.prestonchild.com, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's website, and see if they discuss their longstanding partnership, which has produced many successful novels. Maybe send them an email. They're cool guys.

geardrops
05-29-2009, 10:07 PM
I've had a friend approach me with a rather viable concept for a thriller. I love the idea and want to pursue it. He's approached me because he doesn't really know anything about writing or how to go about trying to see something published (I don't even know if he CAN write, or to what degree).

Am I the only one seeing "Hey, I have an idea, you write it, and we'll split the profits?"

The only worry I have here is your co-author not pulling his weight. I've had this happen enough to me that I don't do cooperative creative efforts anymore. The other person always bails on me.

Bubastes
05-29-2009, 10:11 PM
Am I the only one seeing "Hey, I have an idea, you write it, and we'll split the profits?"


You're not the only one. If you do plan to continue with this, make sure you have a contract in place that lists each person's responsibilities, milestones, deadlines, money split, etc. Even that may not save you from being the one doing the heavy lifting, but it will at least put everyone's expectations on the table before you get too deep into the project.

EFCollins
05-29-2009, 10:19 PM
I'm not going to assume your friend is wanting you to do all the work. He or she might be interested in writing, but just never done it before.

My father-in-law and I wrote a novelette together. Overall, it was a great experience. He writes YA and I write horror, so he asked me to write with him on a horror idea he had. Our styles complimented each other very well. How we went about it was I'd write for a while and stop mid-sentence and email it to him. He'd do the same. That way the thought/dialog.narrative etc. was incomplete and whoever was next had to continue it, making the transitions between our different styles seamless. We reread whatever the opposite had written and commented in colored text (pointing out misspellings or highlighting an area where we fixed/changed something), as we do in SYW here. The story turned out great. All in all, I think both of us learned something from the experience.

mlhernandez
05-29-2009, 10:21 PM
Just be really careful. I know a pair of writers who have been successful in their genre--but they've just had a massive falling out based on a conversation in another forum here at AW. They've got a three book contract and deadlines but now question the working relationship. That's not a good situation to be in, my friend.

Eric San Juan
05-29-2009, 10:28 PM
[quote]What are the logistics of such an arrangement?
What's common practice for the creation process in writing partnerships?
Do both individuals write and edit each other's work?
How to you maintain a consistent voice throughout the MS?
There is no one answer because this could be handled a dozen different ways. Imagine a configuration and you can be sure a pair of authors have worked that way. One plots and the other writes, you switch back and forth on chapters, and loads more. In theory, they're all viable.

My co-authored work was non-fiction, so it doesn't quite apply to your project, but in my case we'd each write half a chapter -- sometimes I did the first half and he'd follow my lead, sometimes vice versa -- then we'd edit each other's work, then we edited the chapters together into a seamless whole, then we each gave them another edit. The result was a decent blending of our voices. I can still tell who is who most of the time, but other people usually can't.

(I talk more about our process here (http://shoegaze99.blogspot.com/search/label/How%20I%20Got%20Published))

But there are loads of ways we could have approached it. It all comes down to a process with which you'll both feel comfortable and that will keep you steadily working.

All that being said ...


I've had a friend
PROCEED WITH CAUTION! Doing such a project with a friend, and an inexperienced one at that, is more likely than not to leave you disappointed and frustrated. This isn't a judgement on your friend, just a general observation made from experience. YOUR passion for creative projects may not be matched by someone else's. YOU might take this seriously as a life goal while someone else might only kinda sorta take it seriously, and then only until they're distracted by something else.

So I really really urge you to tread with caution here. Could be the best person in the world, but that won't matter if they are not devoted to writing in the same way you are.

Kitty Pryde
05-29-2009, 10:39 PM
Am I the only one seeing "Hey, I have an idea, you write it, and we'll split the profits?"



That's what it looks like to me. If it's just you and your buddy tossing around ideas, and you writing for funsies, it seems like a harmless enough pastime. If it's supposed to be a serious project, a business relationship working towards a publishable finished project, it sounds like you do all the work and he gets half the money at the end: a proposition which sounds enraging to me.

Linda Adams
05-29-2009, 10:58 PM
PROCEED WITH CAUTION! Doing such a project with a friend, and an inexperienced one at that, is more likely than not to leave you disappointed and frustrated. This isn't a judgement on your friend, just a general observation made from experience. YOUR passion for creative projects may not be matched by someone else's. YOU might take this seriously as a life goal while someone else might only kinda sorta take it seriously, and then only until they're distracted by something else.


Seconding this. My cowriter relationship fell apart during the submission part of the process, with a finished book in hand. I ended up walking away from it, even though I wrote about 75-80% of it. In hindsight, I got into it for the wrong reasons and ignored warning signs along the way.

Make sure you're not overbalanced. I was, going in, a much better writer and more familiar with the publishing industry. I got even better by leaps and bounds during the project and further overbalanced it. This did create a lot of friction later in the relationship. Cowriter was convinced he knew everything about the publishing industry from his experience in regular business, so he never bothered to learn about the publishing industry.

Make sure your cowriter is reading lots of books, particularly in his genre. My cowriter would not read a book unless it was recommended to him. Head smack for not asking, "Do you read lots of fiction?" up front. It contributed to the overbalance because when I finally got the concept of story, he thought he understood it, too, but it turned out he didn't actually get it.

Get it in writing that you will each do 50-50 of the writing, possibly even with deadlines set. If we weren't writing together, my cowriter put writing at the end of his priority list and rarely did writing by himself.

Agree on at what stage at the submission process do you stop and regroup, and make sure it's a reasonable number. At the first rejection, my cowriter wanted to revise the first chapter (he could never come up with why or what he wanted to revise), and when we hit 15 rejections, he became convinced something was wrong with the book (this is because James Rollins sold his first book in 15 submissions in 1996 or 1997).

Make sure you do 50-50 work on selecting the agents. Cowriter didn't have time to bother with it.

Come up with several other ideas for cowritten projects before you write the first project. That may help keep it from being a power struggle at a bad time. When we started submitting, I wanted to get right on developing a new project and tossed out a couple of ideas. Cowriter hated all of my ideas and finally came up with two "ideas" of his own--an occupation or a place. No actual story. Worse, he would only do those two "ideas" and only if we rewrote the first chapter of the existing book (again, no reason given for why it need rewriting).

Come up with some solo projects and have them in progress. It'll give you a position of strength if things start going south.

jst5150
05-29-2009, 11:03 PM
I believe AW's Uncle Jim writes with a partner (his wife, in fact). It seems to work fine and they have a few books. Recommend broaching the question in the "Learning to write with Uncle Jim" thread with specifics on mechanics and so on.

Cyia
05-29-2009, 11:10 PM
Am I the only one seeing "Hey, I have an idea, you write it, and we'll split the profits?"

The only worry I have here is your co-author not pulling his weight. I've had this happen enough to me that I don't do cooperative creative efforts anymore. The other person always bails on me.

I had the same initial thought.

Now it sounds like this guy has helped with some of the groundwork - plotting and so forth - so maybe he's in it for the long haul, but it's just as likely that he thinks his contribution is done. This is one reason ideas are "worthless", they're nothing unless the actual work of writing them is done.

If this guy doesn't know how to write - or is unwilling to - that means that you're stuck with the heavy lifting while he plays supervisor. If he tries to help, but has no talent for it, you're still stuck.

What happens the first time your writing goes crosswise with his "vision" for the story? How much of your time does he expect you to devote to this project? How much of his own is he offering?

If it's a "here's an idea, run with it" situation, I'd either back out, or make it clear upfront that if you write it, you own it. Period.

Ideas can't be copyrighted, expressions can. If you like the basic concept and he's unwilling to contribute to the actual meat of the story, scrub his specifics out (change names and places, etc.) and do it yourself.

Leukman
06-03-2009, 08:53 PM
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and input!! Very much appreciated.

I've since learned that my 'friend' is a tad dyslexic and has never written anything other than a letter.

:Wha:

When asked, he is/was willing to discuss a contractual type agreement for who's doing what (and getting what should there be any success).

So, if he'll agree to researching, outlining, character dev, etc., and let me stick with the prose, we might could work it out...;)

Leukman
06-03-2009, 08:55 PM
Oh, and you'll all get an ARC when I sell this in a three-book deal. :D