Monday, October 26, 2015

Give Writing Collaborations a Try

Climbing the mountain to success
is easier with switchbacks. 
As I near the end of revisions on my second scripture-based fiction novel, my mind drifts to the next project. Actually, there are two. I've already begun the third (and final?) Book of Mormon fiction in the series and want a small break from it. A novella feels perfect. Plus, there are benefits to seeing which trail works best for climbing the mountain to success. 

When one of the critique partners in my group suggested the four of us each write a romance novella to combine into one book, I took immediate interest. Sometimes it's nice to have an idea fall into your lap. I'm ready for a change, ready to develop the romance genre further, and I enjoy the ladies in my group.

Unlike an anthology where each writer has a theme but the story is independent of one another, this would be a collaboration. The characters continue into the next novella and the time frame may overlap, but is sequential. Each writer must use consistent character traits and know how the stories intertwine. Therefore, either one person hatches the entire basic plan, as in this case, or they get together to plot it out. My group knows the major plot points throughout, but we have freedom to do whatever else we imagine. Sounds perfect!

There are some pros and cons to collaborations. Consider the following:
  • The team needs to be on the same page about what will happen in the story. Each member should be flexible, listen to other opinions, and not be afraid to kindly state their own. The member with the biggest head can ruin the plan.
  • Saying yes to a collaboration means you expect to complete the goals and do your part. Some groups find it necessary to draw up a contract stating specifics about productivity timelines, and so forth. The member who is a flake can ruin the plan.
  • Writers should have similar abilities in the craft so that all can be proud of the entire collaboration. The individual strengths and interests of each writer should still be celebrated and shine through. Members who support one another have more fun.
  • Start with some ground rules or expectations. How will this be published, marketed? Will there be any costs? Will sales be split evenly? What will you do if someone can't complete their responsibilities?
  • Collaborations often garner each writer greater exposure to new readers through their associated project. This alone can make the effort to be a team player worth it. Just be smart, flexible, and communicate.
I'm sure I haven't noticed every puzzle piece yet, but the timing feels good to me, and since I'm still waiting for my first published novel to release, I can afford the smaller investment into a novella. I'll let you know how it works out. In the meantime, if you have any collaboration tips, please share. Happy writing!

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