posted about her recent collaboration
, and I thought I'd talk a little bit about my own experiences with collaborating. In some ways, I feel like I'm almost always collaborating on my storytelling. As a kid, I played a lot of let's pretend with my surrogate big sister and my actual little sister, saving the world as a space hero (using a swingset as our space ship -- I remember one time we got medals from the president), traveling across the prairie as pioneers (a boulder in the back yard was our wagon), and running bad guys (I don't remember what kind) in the winter by sliding down a big neighborhood snow pile.
And when I started writing, I played in other people's worlds. The first fiction I remember writing was based on an old comic of my mom's from when she was a child. I wrote a play featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse when I was in upper elementary school, using the style I saw on the shorts on the New Mickey Mouse Club.
Shortly thereafter, I wrote a script for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
cartoon. In middle school, I worked on a long Star Wars
novel that, naively, I expected to submit to Lucasfilm; I was devastated to learn you had to be invited
to write for the franchise.
It was while writing the Star Wars
piece that I started writing an original story. I'd read about a contest in Disney Adventures
magazine for a new super hero; I designed one that I got so attached to, I redesigned her (rights to the entries were owned by Disney after submitting, so she had to be revamped) and wrote my first novel. I discovered as a high school freshman just how many publishers didn't want to look at stories with anthropomorphic animals, and since one of her main powers was talking to animals, well, that was a stumbling block. There's still some good material in the young writing, though I'd rewrite the entire story now in a different setting if I ever got back to it.
In high school, I started writing short stories about children with dragon powers; I shared them with a friend and he wrote some short stories back. It was my world -- I'd made the rules -- but he played in it. I shortly thereafter joined his D&D group (after being, at the time, the youngest invited), and I started group storytelling in D&D, which is a fabulously collaborative format.
I collaborated once on a short story in college, which I still think is quite a good piece, and wonder if I shouldn't contact my cowriter and see if we should send it around. We only ever submitted it to the L. Ron Hubbard "Writers of the Future" contest, and now I wonder if, as a co-written piece, it was even eligible. In that effort, we took turns writing sections, but since we were local (just across campus), I remember talking out quite a bit of it as well, and editing each other's sections. I don't know that it would have worked long term as a collaborative relationship, but for the duration of the assignment, it was fun.
Though I've done plenty of other non-collaborative writing, it didn't surprise me to end up first published with shared-world fiction. Into the Reach
(and the still sitting in my drawer conclusion, Regaining Home
) take place in someone else's world -- albeit one I helped flesh out quite a bit. My ownership rights are dubious (hence the drawer) because I didn't create the world. The writing experience, however, was great -- I liked the whole goal of the novels not only being a good story, but also being designed to make the world more appealing, to tie in aspects and characters from the setting as wink and a nod to the roleplaying audience.
And now I'm writing Blood and Tumult
back and forth with lyster
, both of us playing in a world we didn't create. I've really enjoyed writing in the world of Baeg Tobar
; I feel like it's a strong setting with really great elements, and I hope that our serial novel both embraces and enhances the work that's gone before. It's a huge privilege to work with lyster
, who I really believe is destined for stardom (his manuscript that's making the rounds right now was easily in the top five books I read last year, and probably in the top two -- and that without the benefit of an editor). He's not only a motivating factor (I keep his message that he's sent me a new chapter as an "unread" message in my inbox, so my e-mail reminds me that I need to send him a chapter back every time I open it). He's also keeping the story fresh for me -- we were required to work from an outline, which always takes some of the excitement out of the actual writing process for me, because I know what's going to happen next. So having his take on things every two chapters makes it a lot more fun to see the twists and turns. I think stylistically he has a better sense of prose than I do, and so I'm striving to make my prose live up to his. Of course, I'm sure my own style comes through as well, and I hope that by the time it's finished, we'll both have mimicked each other's styles so successfully that the whole thing will blend into a complete piece.
So, yes, collaboration. I enjoy it. :)