From The Writers' Room Featuring The Witch Who Came In From the Cold

What Are the Most Rewarding and Challenging Aspects of Co-writing?

Co-writing a story has a number of benefits, but does come with its challenges, as well. You and your co-writer(s) must be clear on your process, expectations, and goals up front in order to weave your story together.

Rewards

  • Having multiple writers in the room hugely magnifies the overall creativity on the team. One person may come up with something none of the others would have even considered, whether it’s a character, plot point, twist, or worldbuilding aspect.
  • You’re able to share the burden to tell a much more complex story than you would have written on your own (or at least do it faster). Further, to some extent you can pick and choose those scenes, plot threads, or characters that are must fun/exciting to you and focus on those while someone else handles the others that they find fun.
  • You can learn from other creatives—their process, their writing style, their experience and expertise and share your own.

Challenges

  • If you and your writing partner(s) don’t have a clear, shared vision of where your story is headed, it’s extremely easy to get off-track. Outlining is strongly encouraged, and if at any point it looks like your outline may change, you need to communicate that quickly with your other writer(s) and figure out a way forward.
  • Be clear about who is responsible for what. If each writer expects the other to drop necessary hints, for example, that the other will use for pay-off, then those hints may never get dropped.
  • Also have a clear understanding of who’s responsible for things like revising, pitching/proposing, marketing, and all the other elements of the publishing process. It’s great to act as one another’s crit partners as you go, but you should always get outside eyes on your project as well to make sure it’s sensible to someone other than the writers.

Lindsay Smith is the author of the YA espionage thrillers SekretSkandal, and Dreamstrider, all from Macmillan Children’s. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and dog, where she writes on international issues in cyber security.


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