Lately, opportunities to work as a writer on collaborative stories have popped up. My initial reaction was hesitant. I’ve worked as a screenwriter and have seen my scripts come to life. An amazing opportunity, no argument. Some projects were a blast and became a bonding experience with the people involved. Working with compatible people is energising and the joint project morphs into a collective “ours”. Changes are welcomed because as a writer you are valued and want to please. The story is better for the input. You would never give birth to this baby on your own. Exciting. Thrilling. The energy can’t be replicated solo.
Then there are the nightmare projects that make you swear never to work creatively with people again. The muse is wounded. You’re forced to make edits you don’t want. The story is in tatters and may not even make sense anymore because others gutted the details and added their own with zero consideration (screenwriters always get the blame for plot holes, when usually it’s the director or producer making changes). Animosity grows along with embarrassment. The killjoy experience.
Working for others means they have the final say. Writers are at the bottom of the food chain. Writers are at the mercy of who they are working with. Pay attention to personality types. Yours and theirs. Blunt people or demanding people are difficult to work with. Personalities open to compromise and discussion are pleasant to work with. Go with your gut instinct.
As modern writers, working on collaborative pieces is a great way to network and gain exposure. There are opportunities to write for hire. Many writers ghostwrite or produce content for others. So, good luck avoiding collaborations and getting ahead. Hell, even being traditionally published requires trusting your baby with an editor.
Writers are passionate people. Learning to be open to story changes is something most of us struggle with. For me, my past collaborations have taught me to go into a new project with the understanding the story is not mine but a collective entity. Everyone involved wants to add their own stamp. That’s a good sign, the heart of collaboration. Don’t get too attached and keep some distance. The distance allows for others to have their input and express their passion. Sometimes staying detached is easier said than done. As writers, we are used to being the masters of our worlds. The Muse loves everything she creates. Save your original drafts, the finished collective project might be totally different with no major traces of the original. In such cases, congratulations you potentially have two individual works, the collective and the solo.
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by Xmas Elves NFTs.They requested a Christmas elves origins story for their line of Christmas NFTs. I had my reservations given my collaborative experiences. Plus, The Muse only has one Santa lore story, and she falls in love with folklore — look at my flash fiction blog. I kept the rights to the story and posted my original version. On a psychological level, keeping the rights and claiming the original version of the tale meant any altered version was a different entity. I was happy with any changes the business needed. Everyone involved is happy. Farting reindeer is an acquired taste, thank you… (read Santa’s Tears). The experience was pleasant. A great reintroduction to collaboration work.
Inspired, I’ve started throwing creative ideas around with my “magical writing bestie”. We’re both bonkers. Let the fun begin.
Main points regarding collaborations…
⭐️ Networking opportunities
⭐️ Loads of fun
⭐️ Morphs into something amazing and collective
⭐️Creates bonds between parties involved
⭐️ Edits and compromises you don’t like
⭐️ Others might not “get” the story or enjoy parts of the story and demand change
⭐️ Process takes a lot longer (back and forwards)
⭐️ Causes friction
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
⭐️ Don’t get too attached, keep some distance. Understand the story isn’t yours. She’s a collective.
⭐️ Good communication — compromise and be open to new ideas (it’s a two-way street)
⭐️ Consider personalities before committing — theirs and your own
⭐️ Remember: ALL creatives involved need to imprint their own stamp on the project