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December 8, 2012


Replies: 91

Opinions on co-writing

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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Devious Comments

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.
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You're authors? That's amazing! Well done! Thank you very much for your advice!
TerryTatcher Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Professional Filmographer
You're welcome.
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 projects and writing books.... >,>

As far as your character goes, sorry, not sure how to help there. =/
Shurely Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for the advice! Good luck with your writing!
fluffpuffgerbil Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
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.
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!
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.
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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