Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? – Part II

Now in Rich’s case, the biggest challenge the two of us faced was the distance between us.  Now, I’m not talking about ideas or suggestions, we’re actually pretty good on that front.  I’m talking physical, geographical distance.  Rich lives over in North Carolina, whereas I live on west coast of California.  So how do we make our collaboration work? Simple use the following:


Rich and I Skype on a bi-weekly basis, sharing ideas we’ve come up with and give each other feedback on what the other has added to the story.  Then through Dropbox, we shared the document, going in whenever we have a chance and add new scenes, ideas, etc.  However, we always read what the other has added first.  We’ve gotten into the habit of hi-lighting new sections in different colors so we both know who added new material.  This way each of us has a good idea of the feel and mood of a particular scene before adding our own touches to it.

Now for the most part this has been relatively easy because we each created certain characters for this book, and they fall mostly under the respective creator’s control.  Plus there are many scenes where these characters are not in the same scene, allowing each of us to add to the overall story by having each character learn more information about the greater mystery and threat, which will bring everyone together in the end.

However, we also borrow each other’s characters for certain scenes we’ve discussed on Skype to consult  on whether or not the character’s behaviors are consistent.  Admittedly, this kind of system means it takes us a while to get a story completed, but at the beginning of all this Rich was working full-time, and I had been studying at university, so neither of us have all the time in the world to simply sit and write.

These days I’m working full-time and Rich is semi-retired and working part-time. So we still have the ‘time to write’ issue come up for us.  Especially when one of us is hitting everyone’s ‘favorite’ (said sarcastically) problem Writer’s Block.

NOTE: Honestly this is not what actually happens, but it bloody well feels like it sometimes.

When this happens to one of us, then our Skype sessions and e-mails become a great asset.  We help each other out by figuring out where the blockage is coming from, does an area need to be rewritten or cut out, etc.  For us, the old adage of “two heads are better than one” really gives us an advantage.  Plus, we are very much on the same page for where this story is heading overall.  But at the same time, by not always telling the other what we’ve got planned in a scene, it allows both the other author the surprise and excitement the reader will enjoy, as well as firing up the imagination to build upon this new material.

Now recently, we’ve added Google Docs to our arsenal. Why we did this is because Google Docs has a couple of features that really makes our collaboration that much easier. For one thing, unlike in Dropbox, we can both be in the document at the same time. Why is this helpful? Because we can see what each other is doing in ‘Real Time’, something we couldn’t do in Dropbox.  Google Docs will let us know who else is in the file and even show us what they are typing right before our eyes. Another nice feature with Google Docs is that when you first open the file, it will let you know that changes were made recently, and will also take you to a lists of where those changes were made. This makes it really easy to see what’s been happening much faster than scrolling through a couple of hundred pages and hoping to find what the new additions/corrections were.


Well, leave them in comments section below and I’ll try and answer them in the next installment.  Until then, take care and keep writing.

One Response to Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? – Part II

  1. […] up with some more information here that my great friend Allan gave with his post entitled “Collaborations: What Do They Look Like? How Do I Make Mine Work? – Part II“. Everything that he said is true in that well worded post. What I wanted to broach was the […]

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