Months ago, someone I know decided to put together a collaborative writing challenge. Those of us who were interested signed up, and we were split into two groups. One was an urban fantasy group, one epic fantasy. I ended up in the epic fantasy group, in which exactly none of us were writers of epic fantasy (though that was part of the draw - to try something new).
Unfortunately, summer ended up being crazy busy. At first, I was able to make the weekly meet-ups, despite about a billion other meetings each week and my husband being out of country for work (my poor children were dragged all over the place). But when I started the CNA class, I was out for five weeks at least. And I went on my trip to Oregon the following week. So on and so forth. Point being, I was forced to drop the ball and stop going to the collaborative writing meetings.
It wasn't just me who was busy, though, and the group ended up folding. We got as far as fleshing out our characters and outlining the majority of the book.
The good news is that we re-formed, this time with an urban fantasy novel idea, something much more up our collective alleys. And this time we took into account that we were all busy people, moving our gatherings out to every other week and working out a way to do most of our collaboration online.
Collaborative writing has good aspects and bad aspects. On the positive side, if you can't come up with an idea, a character trait, a next step in the plotting process, etc., there's someone else who can. You have other people to bounce ideas off of, and valuable feedback to hone the ideas you're trying to form. Plus, other people may come up with things you wouldn't have necessarily thought up yourself. Each of us brings a different piece of knowledge, a different history, and so on, to the collaboration. What one of us doesn't know, surely another does.
It's fun, but it's also a learning process. It's quite different from sitting down at your own computer, wrapped up in your own world, and throwing those words out. You have to have a consensus, make a case for whatever you're pushing for, and be willing to drop something everyone else isn't fond of. There's the chance of artistic disagreement and the tension that might bring with it. And for me, plotting isn't something I typically do, so thinking ahead through the story when I'm not actively writing it to do so is a bit of a challenge for me.
That said, I'm enjoying the process. If you have an opportunity to collaborate with someone, consider giving it a try, just to give something new to you a go.
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Stephen King and Peter Straub
And, of course, Bryan and Brandon over at A Beer for the Shower.
Here's a piece on 10 Famous Ghostwriting Collaborations (though I'm not talking about ghostwriting or anthologies here, both of which are separate topics).
There are legal considerations in writing collaborations that you might want to look into should you want to try it, so do please research that if needed.
Also, Happy Banned Books Week!
Have you ever collaborated on a novel? Would you consider doing so? Why or why not?
May you find your Muse.