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December 8, 2012
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Opinions on co-writing

:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I have recently written a short story/novella called The Eagle (see my gallery if you want - it's on there). However, I already have a sequel fully planned in my head, and I'm getting a friend to help me out and co-write it, since I don't think I'd be able to on my own. Plus she's a great writer, so there's no misunderstanding there.

Nevertheless, I've been wondering about this sequel, and how successful it would be. The main character is (as my friend put it) too over-powered and emotionally detached from everything else.

I'd like to ask: how do I make the reader empathise with such a character? Should I really write a sequel? And what do you think of co-writing?
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:iconterrytatcher:
TerryTatcher Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Professional Filmographer
A reader will empathize with any character, given the character is something work empathizing. If your character is unique and the reader will actually sit through the whole story with him/her, then they've begun to taste the empathy. A character that may be "too detached" could mean that your readers will eventually feel the same. If the narrator or protagonist doesn't seem to care that the world as they know it is coming to an end, then the reader won't either. A prime example of this is "The Stranger," a book I was compelled to read for school, only doing so with the utmost reluctance. It bored me to tears because the protagonist didn't care about anything. There was no connection to the plot. The protagonist was merely along for the ride and was therefore not of interest. You'll be fine if your character doesn't become fully detached from the plot, if that's what you were worried about.

As for topic two: Sequels can be overdone, but they are so much fun to make. It gives you a chance to fine-tune your characters and their relationships. If you are unsure about it, little harm can come from you writing it, finishing it, and looking back at it later and saying it was a bad idea. Go for it. If you hate where it's going, change it. Throw something new and unexpected, maybe even something you would hate to write about, just to see what happens. Then, you may feel more comfortable going back to the original design of the sequel. If you're worried about creating a rehash, do the aforementioned step without the going back to the original bit, I suppose.

And finally, co-writing. My friend and I co-wrote a short story together as an experiment and after six rejection letters, we finally got accepted by a magazine and we are officially published authors. I can hardly get anything done unless I see progress to inspire me onward. Having a co-writer makes me motivated and unyielding. I get more and more excited and write much, much better than normal. That, however, is just me. For you, you may be totally at odds with the idea of co-writing. And that's fine. Normal, in fact. It is your story, originally, and it is hard to give up part of your custody of your baby.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You're authors? That's amazing! Well done! Thank you very much for your advice!
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:iconterrytatcher:
TerryTatcher Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Professional Filmographer
You're welcome.
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:iconfluffpuffgerbil:
fluffpuffgerbil Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Welllll I tried co-writing a book with my best friend, but I have problems working with other people when it comes to like, projects and stuff like that, so I decided to call it off. Plus I was more into it than she was. I'm still (slowly) working on writing it, and she said she'd help edit it if I needed it, so it's all cool. =3 Had to call it off before things got ugly between us..... but what we did is that I had the characters I made up, and she had hers, and we'd 'roleplay' with them, writing the story that way. Then I'd go through and edit it all to make it flow nicely, then edit the crap out of that a bit more until it sounded like one thing. However, the problem was that I've got the protagonist and his love interest. And the antagonists haven't done much so far, so she felt a little left out of it(which was partially her fault for not speaking out about it sooner, but she wanted me to have what I wanted in the book, and I went along with it because I thought she was happy with it.)


So. GOOD COMMUNICATION IS KEY. And try to make sure who you write with has a compatible style unless you want to rewrite the whole thing(which isn't bad anyway), and it'd be best if you could get together daily or a couple times a week at least to write and discuss things, one thing I was unfortunately unable to do. And make sure to plan everything out, how you're writing, who's doing what characters, or if you're sharing them and writing every other chapter, make sure their character(as in trait, personality, etc) stays consistent. And there might be arguments and compromises, or you might find who you're writing with just isn't compatible.
But it can be really fun if you find the right person and thing to write about(I love doing roleplays with my sister!). It's just funner when you're not a 'lone ranger' who doesn't work well with others on things like that....school projects and writing books.... >,>

As far as your character goes, sorry, not sure how to help there. =/
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the advice! Good luck with your writing!
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:iconfluffpuffgerbil:
fluffpuffgerbil Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Professional Artist
Considering I'm literally co-writing a novel (as in at this minute I'm multi-tasking and writing with my co-writer), I'd say it works pretty well if you're in sync.

As to the character -- find an in-universe way to strip the character of their power or make them feel insecure and/or uncertain. Angst and troubles are where drama and depth come into play.
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:iconlucy-merriman:
Lucy-Merriman Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Student General Artist
how do I make the reader empathise with such a character?

Characters in novels are constructed with language. So use the right language.

Should I really write a sequel?

No comment, as I haven't read your story/novella.

And what do you think of co-writing?

Okay, so I've co-written short plays, I've tried to illustrate a comic someone else wrote, and I wrote a comic I tried to get someone else to illustrate.

The latter two projects totally failed. Here's why:

1. Poor planning. We didn't set up a deadline for each chapter and stick to it.

2. Poor communication. We had different ideas as to what we wanted the story to be about and we couldn't compromise.

3. Lack of motivation. We each were doing multiple projects, and this one wasn't for class credit or a contest, so it didn't take priority.

The plays, on the other hand, had a deadline (in time for the One-Acts festival). We had the same vision and sense of humour (90% of our "writing" was hanging out joking around, and then writing down the good lines we came up with). We also were motivated because we're both passionate about drama club, and wanted everyone to see our show. Yeah, we're kinda fame whores. Having an audience you don't want to disappoint is a great motivator.

Hope that helps!
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional Artist
"Characters in novels are constructed with language. So use the right language."

...I know this is going to probably come off wrong but -- are you for real? I don't see that advice helping anyone, especially considering the question. It doesn't matter if you're God Himself, if a character isn't interesting then people won't be interested in them. You have to make a character interesting, give them flaws -and- abilities. Depth doesn't just come from "the right language", it comes from defining the character as if they were a real person.
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:iconlucy-merriman:
Lucy-Merriman Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Student General Artist
Of course I'm real. Saying, "give them interesting flaws and abilities" is obvious advice. Clearly the asker already knows that; she's writing a novel, not an RPG character sheet. I just mentioned--briefly, since I don't like to text wall on forums--the single best piece of writing advice I've ever been given.

How do you "give" a character flaws, abilities, traits, and all the things that make up their personality? With words. Constantly be aware that you are in control of how the story is told, and choose your words wisely.

Imagine, for instance, that two different writers--say, Kurt Vonnegut and Judy Blume--were given the same "character sheet" with all the "traits" filled out, and told to write a story about the character. The stories would be incredibly different, and the character would become two distinct, vivid, separate people in their creations. Why? Because Judy Blume's voice is not Kurt Vonnegut's voice; they choose different words.

At any rate, I didn't elaborate much initially because the main thrust of her question was about co-writing; that was the title question. I came here to answer that question. You, however, seem more interested in writing advice :) I'm the admin for a really great writing group here called :iconwriters-workshop:. All our hosts are either CVs like ^Beccalicious and ^neurotype, or have been awarded Daily Deviations for their writing. Our next workshop starts in January if you'd like to join us!
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2012  Professional Artist
Because of the tonal confusion of the internet, I clarify here: I am not trying to be rude or insulting, I am merely trying to be honest with you.

First - The philosophical talking comes off as a little pretentious. The reason I said what I said was because you didn't really seem to give any real advice. It was like saying something without really saying it. Technically speaking, every form of conversation has some form of "words". Let me put what I read in an example. It would be like me telling a fellow game designer who's having trouble designing a game to "include mechanics that are interesting". That is so vague and nonsubstantial that it it really doesn't give any direction, imo.

Second - I realize that the main thing was about co-writing, but I try to be thorough in my answers no matter what.

Third - ...I get that you're trying to be all inspiring and everything, but not all advice is going to be uplifting. Sometimes, it's just "you need to give characters flaws and try to make them believable", not "use words". Maybe it's because I'm a cynic, but I really wouldn't be able to use what you told her to any real purpose. In fact, my response would have been "um... okay" and then moved on. So, unless there's differing views from that in your writing group, I don't really think I'd be that interested. Writing is something I care about a great deal, but I'm not going to just treat it like it's a delicate flower. It's an art, art can be hard, art can be hell, and art can be work. It's incredibly rewarding, but it's just as much a job for the artist as math is to an accountant or design philosophy to an architect.

In summary: I take writing very seriously.
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:iconlucy-merriman:
Lucy-Merriman Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Student General Artist
Due to the tonal confusion of the internet, this response is best read in the voice of Morgan Freeman:

If your response was, "um, okay," and then to move on, I would've been fine with that. But it wasn't. Your response was to snarl at me, and then to insinuate that I don't take writing seriously.

I'm honestly a little confused at how you think you're being polite when you're attacking me for an answer to someone else's question. If you scroll down, you'll see that she found my advice helpful, and was not offended in the least. So why are you taking her question more seriously than she did? Y So SRS, bro?

It's a free internet, man. You're more than welcome to post your own advice if you think your advice is better; that's what forums are for! But you seem to be pretty angry about something that's not a big deal; it's a forum on a social art website :) . It's supposed to be fun, engaging, all that good stuff!

Look, you want honesty? I'm an editor. I get paid to help people write better. That is my only job. I really don't need to justify good advice with my credentials, but let me assure you, I earned my job (you know, with all that "hell" and "work" you talk about.) You think I'm pretentious? That's okay, because what you think of me doesn't matter. You're not my boss, you're not my professor, you don't pay my bills.

Maybe you're a professional writer too. Cool! More power to ya, and if that attitude really helps your writing pay the bills, go for it. But for me, I've found that taking everything up the butt cramps my style ;P .

P.S.:

Don't judge a writer as "delicate" or "pretentious" or...well, really anything...until you've read their writing. Becca, Nic, and the others over at #Writers-Workshop are all serious, passionate, and in some cases, professional writers, and you sit here judging them without reading a word they wrote. That doesn't make you cool and cynical, it just kinda makes you a dick. Even if you're a woman. Can't get around that. Sorry bro.
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:iconparadigmfallen:
ParadigmFallen Featured By Owner Dec 25, 2012  Professional Artist
Note: I realized the day afterward that the last bit about my seriousness would sound like I was attempting to not suggest you weren't serious. I just was merely attempting emphasis.

I first apologize for being far more hostile than intended... I've been under a bit of stress this holiday season and it would appear I let it burst on you, so thus I apologize again. The odd thing is, though, well... I actually really prefer this, if that sounds crazy. At first you were... well, I won't deny, you sounded a bit out there, a bit more philosophical, less practical. This, however, really is what I want more from people. You're being direct, upfront. I prefer being told I messed up and acted like a dick rather. Speaking of which, I apologize again. I agree on the matter of a person's opinion not mattering unless you want it to.

To be entirely honest... I usually don't do this sort of thing. I let my anger get to me, and (I'll stop after this since I imagine it'll start getting annoying) I apologize.

And I didn't mean to suggest none of your writers at the workshop weren't passionate. The ironic fact was, while I was raging, the idea of actually getting to do a writing workshop is very appealing. If I haven't made an utter fool of myself, then I would be willing to at least try.

As to my professional career as a writer... so far I've been building up a healthy amount of practice blogging and writing short stories/one novella (some fanfics, some original). I've been writing for roughly eight years now, and am going to be working on a novel/looking for potential freelance article positions. I can explain more later, but I have to head to bed at this moment.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the feedback!
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:iconlucy-merriman:
Lucy-Merriman Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2012  Student General Artist
You're welcome!
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:iconwillwriteforhearts:
willwriteforhearts Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Student Writer
You have to be suuuuuper committed if you want to co-write. Without proper cooperation, it'll mess up, so if you choose to go down the route be sure to talk to the other writer a lot and communicate!
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
I think it's great especially when writers start to credit instead of just have ghost written and lie about it. I think it could also make a much better novel because you can iron out the flaws in both story and text at an earlier stage. Like having it written twice. So long as the stories keep up their excellent storylines I don't mind if the meat was written by someone else. They got paid right?

Such as David Eddings confessed his Wife had been helping him write the books for years and only in some of the later novels are they titled "by David and Leigh Eddings".
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the advice!
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:iconclaycowboys:
ClayCowboys Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Professional Writer
I've done a few collaborations (my word for co-writing) and the best piece of advice I can give is to plan the project thoroughly before you write it. Know who's going to do what and stick with it. :)
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the advice.
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:iconmerrak:
merrak Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist
1. how do I make the reader empathise with such a character?
You can't make the reader do anything, since the reader could be coming from just about anywhere. So, I'd suggest you focus on creating a realistic character.

2. Should I really write a sequel?
If you want to.

3. And what do you think of co-writing?
When multiple experts come together to write, say, a textbook, there's one issue they're much less likely to have - creative differences. Maybe you should both outline your plan for the book, compare notes, then work out a joint plan. If you can't get through that stage, there's a sure sign your headed for doom. If you can, though, I think you can expect the rest of the project to work.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
"Headed for doom" - the phrasing made me laugh a little. Sure, I think I'll need to create a realistic character and tone down the power in order to do so. Thank you very much.
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:iconlytrigian:
Lytrigian Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
From what you've said, I'm not so sure your friend is a great writer. I don't think there's any such thing as an overpowered character. Even Superman loses once in a while, and "power" isn't universally applicable. There is ALWAYS be something to challenge any character -- just not necessarily in the domain where his powers lie. All characters but the grossest author self-insertions are vulnerable in SOME way.

How would your character react if someone were to breach his emotional defenses? If he ran across a situation he couldn't handle for some embarrassing reason? If someone drew on his face with a permanent marker while he was asleep? Etc?
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, the imagery of someone with permanent marker on their face made me laugh. But you have a really good point: just because someone is over-powered, doesn't mean they don't have a weakness. Plus, emotional weakness are the hardest to overcome for some people. You've helped me a lot, so thank you.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Writer
I actually cowrote a novel with ^neurotype over the summer. It was really fantastic because we both had a lot to learn from each other as writers. We also wrote a dual POV narrative...I'm not sure how authors cowrite with only one POV. But I think that if you and your coauthor are both on board for a project, and that you can hold eachother accountable and talk a lot during the process, it can be very rewarding.

As far as character goes, you probably need to look at how your character affects the story. A character who is too powerful isn't that interesting or believable. So maybe that's what your coauthor wants. Though I honestly am not sure why you'd want a coauthors on your sequel when you wrote the first story on your own. Maybe you should revise the first book first, with input from this friend.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That sounds great! It's really cool that you can work with another person and gain something fruitful - this is exactly what I hope to achieve with my co-writer. Thank you for your advice.
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
you must be new here: [link]

google isn't one for empathy in this regard.

should you write a sequel? i don't know, you're the one doing the work. do you want to? is this story so good it needs one?
what do i think of co-writing? i wouldn't do it but that's me.
anything else you need help thinking about?

/no patience for something that is not this difficult
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Google is just a search engine: the artists here on deviantART have an opinion of their own, with individual beliefs and ideas. I simply wanted to hear/see what everyone had to say about this. If you were impatient about a writer expressing her thoughts and willing to hear others', then how do you survive outside these forums?

Life must be hard. You have my sincerest sympathy.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Professional Writer
People are trying to help you help yourself. Google is a great place to start finding resources.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
That I have gathered from raspil and tiganusi. Thanks anyway.
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:icontiganusi:
tiganusi Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Professional
Frankly, 99% of the artists here on deviantART aren't qualified to tell you which end of your pen the magic-word-wine comes out of, and without knowing them all personally you can't tell who is qualified. If I have a question about art I Google it, or targetedly ask someone serious about their craft, or get off the internet and press buttons in-real-life until it works. All of those methods get you less junk data than this site's forums, frankly. Also it puts people who do know in less of a position of having to google shit for you.

That said, raspil is basically the Queen of Hell. What she's saying is more helpful than you'd think.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm not here to find out who's qualified - I want to find what people think, regardless of their talent. Just because their writing is bad/good, doesn't mean their opinions are as well. Sure, one might reflect the other, but nothing's certain about anything.

...I read all the comments and I'm getting the impression that I should just Google my questions before posting it here. Huh. From all the feedback, it seems the forums have more...opinionated answers (which is exactly what I want, if you haven't got the gist of all this).
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012   Writer
you really don't understand what i'm saying about how idiotic it is that writers don't use Google, and that is sad.
are you willing to learn?

Life must be hard. You have my sincerest sympathy.
and you're a bitch. takes one to know one.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I've already used Google, thanks. It isn't a magical gateway to all the answers, and neither is the forums, I'll admit. But I don't want to make you any more impatient and waste any more of your time, so I'll just say that, yes, I am willing to learn, and if I wasn't, why would I post my question on the forums?

Hang on - you're going to call me a bitch because of those two sentences?! Right. In all honesty, I don't know how to react to that. So I won't.
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:iconraspil:
raspil Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012   Writer
you still don't get it. that's fine. i don't care what you know or don't at this point. keep treading that water, pal.
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Writer
First: Nobody likes protagonists that are too cool for school. To make a character people can empathise with, they have to actually have emotions and feelings and motivations. Number two SHOW us all of those things but do not TELL us about them. If they're sad, make them cry. Beat on them a little, make the suffer, hard times bring out emotions. Also, do not give them an easy victory. Victory should be worked for and hard won and mean something other than "You got 500 exp!"

Sequel: If you want to. I don't know why you're asking me.

Co-Writing: I've done it. It was highly successful. As long as you can all accept that its not "your story" anymore, then okay. Co-writing has involved plenty of arguments for me but they were never bitter or angry. Frustrating at times, but it always worked out best for the story and we kept on going. If you're going to work with somebody, you both have to be adults and you both have to be working towards the same goal.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Heh, all you've said is true, and something I should definitely consider. I asked about writing a sequel because there are some people who don't like them as much as the original story.
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:iconneomerlin:
neomerlin Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Student Writer
Sequels are usually weaker but it's not law or anything. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Terminator, Alien, Red Dragon - all these properties had a sequel that was as strong or better than the original. It's important that a sequel get the right balance of familiarity for the reader without seeming like it is just more of the same.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
If you can both hold each other accountable, do it.

It sounds like you don't agree with her opinion about your character.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
To be honest, we haven't got into the full details yet - she's still reviewing what I've put forward so far.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
So why the original post? :confused: I assume I'm missing something here.
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
I don't really know enough about co-writing to offer advice. I've done it twice, and it worked out reasonably well both times, but neither of those were more than short stories. But there's no reason you couldn't give it a go, as long as you and your friend agreed that, if it didn't work out, you could work on the story on your own.

With regard to your character, have you considered also including a weaker character to go alongside them? If they were emotionally attached to this character, it might give them both a reason to care about everything else that's going on and a potential weakness. Even if they can take care of themselves, they might have a hard time looking after someone else at the same time.
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Yes, I am thinking of having several 'weaker' characters around him so he has to concentrate on reprimanding and protecting them whilst focusing on the purpose of his travels. I don't know how effective that will be, but I suppose it depends on my skill.

Thank you very much for your advice. I am going to talk to my friend now.
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
Excellent! :-) Always happy to help--though it sounds as though you came up with much the same idea independently. Best of luck!
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
To answer the main topic of your thread, co-writing is only good if you really trust the person you're writing with and that both of you can communicate well while planning and editing. That goes with everything. :shrug:

I don't care if I dislike the main character or not as long as the story is good. The only way to empathize with that sort of character is to explain or imply why the character is emotionally detached or have times that their power hinders them. If you have in your previous story, it's nice to remind the reader why. Not everyone is going to like the character.

If you have a great idea for how the sequel should be, you should go for it. Discuss it with your friend and work on it from there. :)
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:iconshurely:
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Hmm. You've raised some excellent points here that I will consider. Thank you very much for your advice.
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome.
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
Idk about co-writing. I think you really have to trust the other person because your characters are like your babies.

Who cares if your main character is over powered? Mine is too, that doesn't make her a bad character. Just let the character write the story for you. :)
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:icondamonwakes:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012   Writer
An over-powered character is, by definition, a bad thing: "over-powered" literally means that they have too much power.

That's not to say that you can't have extremely powerful characters. The superhero "God-Man" actually gets a lot of mileage out of being omnipotent [link] , essentially because it's funny. But God-Man isn't over-powered because, in this case, all the power is just the right amount.
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:iconthe-vibeke:
The-Vibeke Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
OK so that just proves my point then.
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