Thursday, December 4, 2008

Writing with a Reader

Wyatt, who is the head pimpmeister over at PanHistoria, has a really good post in his blog about writing with a partner in collaborative writing and the methods available to you at PanHistoria. Wyatt at Pan Historia: More on Collaborative Writing. So I'll let you go read that.

What came to my mind was the trick of writing with a new partner who is also a reader.

Over in the horror novel FLESH I've been having a blast with my long time writing partner Miss Montez. She writes Dathne. I write Andre. I had been wanting to create one of the NPCs as a writable character since Andre and Dathne will be separated more and more. I was talking to a friend on Pan who is also a reader and she was telling me about a character she had always wanted to put into FLESH, one geekly Anabel Lee, but said she'd never seen a way to do it or how to keep her alive. I liked the character, I like the writer and her style fits with ours, told her I was creating DiDi, and asked her to join us.

So far it's working out great. Miss Montez and I write at a breakneck speed, and write fairly far ahead, except lately with holidays and other mishaps we've been kind of coasting. [We've still got quite a few posts in the bag and plenty more planned out, at least for her. I'm the one snoozing.] What we've been doing with Ana is a little bridgework to connect her character in with ours and it's been a blast. Her character is going to fit in perfectly with our disfunctional zombie-slaying redneck-thwarting household.

Where's the problem? The only hitch is Ana's writer is also a reader of FLESH. I don't want to spoil any surprises for her. This doesn't mean she isn't a part of the planning. We're both asking her for input on the planning, both short and long term. What we're holding back from her, to keep from ruining the story for her, are little plot twists that Ana wouldn't know about anyway. She's clever, she's picked up on things other people haven't, which is why I knew she'd be the perfect person to ask to join us. So she can anticipate certain things will happen, but I'm not going to spoil it by telling her how. I'm not going to deny her any information she needs to know to write her character or to interact with the rest.

Miss Montez held out information on me. I had no idea Dathne intended to use Andre as a bargaining chip. If I had known that from the start I might have let my knowledge of that cloud his perception of her.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, sometimes you have to treat your writing partner like a reader. Save some surprises for them. Even if you plan and plot the way we do, they don't have to know everything your character is going to do if it doesn't affect their character. Plus it can also make a difference in how they write in relation towards your character.

1 comment:

Pan Historia said...

This is a good post and excellent food for thought.

I do, often, let my co-writers only know as much as they need to know to write with me - and I have often emphasized that its ok if their characters misinterpret what is going on because, after all, that's how it is in real life.

Some people don't like my style but I figure that I like surprises and so do my co-writers.

Obviously I can't kill one off or do anything drastic to their character without their knowledge and approval.