Collaboration Flirtation: I hate discussing my story, so how do I start sharing?4 min read

by | Sep 15, 2017 | Writing | 0 comments

There are lots of ways to collaborate when you write. You might have an equal writing partnership with someone. That can involve you both writing together, or you both writing sections and re-writing and editing together. It might involve acting as or using a beta. It might be asking more widely for feedback from a group you trust. But not all collaboration happens during the writing stage.

Collaboration can happen at much earlier stages. Particularly when you’re working through ideas for the story.

When you first get an idea for a story, how do you develop it? Lots of people let it marinate, working on it in their own heads or on paper over time. Others talk it out loud to decide the best plot arc or character to follow. I normally fall into the first category. My closest writing friend falls into the latter. We spent a very happy day recently at Disneyland developing all her plots in the ride queues. Then I was told off for divulging none of my story.

Idea collaboration is something I find difficult, because while I’m developing a story I’m very conscious of its flaws and exceedingly loathe to expose it to the world. I know it’s a confidence thing. One that I’d like to get over. So I’ve been thinking about the best way to try and ease myself into sharing.

Mostly the thought I’ve had floating about is to provide the story idea in a different format, because it’s the discussion aspect I find difficult. (I tie myself in knots trying to explain things, or explain things badly.) I’d also like it to be a mutual task, so I have something to work on while my friend looks at my ideas. The obvious action is to swap story ideas on paper. To plot what I have out, like an outline, and pass it to a friend for feedback, questions and ideas that they had that could be fun to explore. And to reciprocate in the same way.

The “what else could be fun to explore” aspect is always the best part of idea swapping. People coming to your story fresh are going to think of completely different things that they would focus on. Some will be bananas. Some will be fascinating and you won’t believe you overlooked exploring them.

So even if you hate talking about what you’re writing, why not try swapping written outlines? You can just do the whole thing over email. It might be slower than the conversation, you might not find it as easy and fast to explore every angle. But it’s a start, and you can grow your confidence. Odin only knows where a new idea might take your story.

Open up your world to your friends and let them play.

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