December 4, 2009 – 12:48 pm
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Arrens and I have been doing some collaborative writing about an in-character relationship and other things to come. In the true sense of the word “collaborate”, neither of us has written much on our own, but we’ve worked together to pull our characters into something that is, at least in my opinion, WAY better than anything I could write by myself. (Arrens is an excellent writer, and his characters are a lot of fun to work with!) You’ve also seen writing that Bricu and I have done, as well as writing that Yva and I did together.
If you couldn’t tell? Collaboration in roleplay is fun. Lots of fun.
However, there’s a lot more that goes into writing something with another person than just opening a Google Document or email and chugging away. (more on Google Documents later)
The big, major, important thing is communication.
I know, you’re all super surprised that I’m bringing THAT up again. But it’s true! Without out of character communication – either in some kind of chat program or in a “comments section” in the document you’re working on, collaboration will end up stifled. Or, as Bricu put it this morning, your RP will suck. (You should all go read that post, btw? Great story. I’ll wait for you to get back!)
So how do you make this work?
Have an idea. Share the idea. Get excited about the idea, as you and your intended partner in crime writing sort out just where this could go. Develop some background. Maybe you had a brilliant flash of inspiration and wrote up the beginning of a scene, or maybe you were drinking your coffee and thought to yourself “I wonder what would happen if…”. A great deal of the fun of working together is shared excitement. This is the brainstorming part, so don’t be afraid to toss out really crazy, left-field thoughts just to see where they go. Not all ideas make good fiction, but not having any ideas is worse!
I’m a big fan of using some kind of instant message program along side of writing, since it takes me out of the actual document and makes me look at it from an exterior perspective, as well as fostering idea-tossing. This communication about ideas should continue throughout the writing process – and might even spawn off other bits of fiction, blog posts, or in-game RP!
My preferred weapon of choice for collaborative writing is Google Documents. I have, and use, Google Wave, but right now it suffers from bloat problems – and bloat is REALLY annoying when you’re trying to do a 2K word story with someone else. Google Docs allows you to create a shared word processing document that multiple people can edit at the same time.
Email is another effective method, whether in the content of the email itself or just to forward back and forth a saved document that the other person can add to and then save and send back. Even Forum Private-Messages can be used for this, as can chat programs. Basically any application that lets both you and another person contribute to a piece of writing is usable (though obviously some are easier than others, at least when it comes to editing later on).
There are two major branches of collaborative writing. One has each person writing small sections, back and forth. The other has one person controlling both/multiple characters and then getting input on making them fit their author’s imagination, with multiple writers taking on long sections. Neither is better than the other, and they both require a good deal of communication. I tend to find that the more interaction there is between characters, the more “back and forth” will happen in a piece of fiction, but your mileage may vary, particularly if you are very familiar with and comfortable with the other character.
Etiquette of Shared Writing
- Don’t type over each other – Either use a chat program to say “ok, your turn now”, or type a little note at the bottom that says “I’m done, you take over for awhile.”
- Talk about any major changes you want to make – If you think a paragraph would be better served moved somewhere else within writing that you yourself have done, this is less important, but major flow changes can screw up later dialogue, so at least warn the other person.
- Adjust your character’s dialogue if necessary – I get called into a lot of writing to turn normal conversation into “Aely speak”. That’s fun, and something that any character should feel comfortable with, particularly if they have any kind of idiomatic or accented speech.
- If you need help with something, hilight it and keep writing. The beauty of internet documents is that the other writer can come in and look at it/fix it up!
Putting it all together
Once you have the actual writing part done, all that’s left is to edit it and figure out if/when/where it gets posted! Of course, sometimes the editing part takes longer than the writing part, depending on how much the story changes through the writing. Deciding when something will happen can be tricky as well, especially if it has long-reaching consequences for any of the characters in-game. Just because you’ve finished a fic about some major event doesn’t mean that it’s automatically happened.
Choosing where to post it – or even if it should get posted – can be the hardest decision of all, especially if (like me) you have a blog, the other person has a blog, and there are multiple guild forums involved! Some things are easier to write up and then keep between the writers as background/emotional fodder for the characters, but usually once a story is finished, I want it to get read!
Still on the communication part though, make sure that everyone involved with the story is OK with its posted destination (and thinks its finished!).
What Collaboration is Not
Collaboration is not editing. It’s not having someone else help you tell your story. (That’s the subject of a different post!) While getting help sorting out a story is a good thing, especially if you’re stuck, dead ended, or just unsure of how to make everything work, that’s just getting help with a story. Collaboration requires that two or more people be actively contributing to the story – it’s a group effort, rather than getting help with a solo effort.
Aely’s Wrathgate Story was, almost entirely, a solo effort with moments of collaboration. Tarquin and Jolstraer both had sections where their writing was prominent or intermixed with mine, but most of those posts were my own, even when I got help figuring out how to get from point A to point B.
The stories linked at the top of this post, however, were written in collaboration – two equal authors where both of the characters involved were affected by/involved in the story.
I highly recommend working with other writers when it comes to RP.
Sometimes my ideas suck, and sometimes they don’t – by working with someone else whose writing and creativity I like and trust? We sort out the suck from the good – and turn the good into awesome.
There’s a very good reason for the saying “Two heads are better than one”. Take advantage of it!
December 3, 2009 – 9:54 am
Written, of course, with Arrens. Enjoy!
Old Town never really settled into the pre-dawn quiet that Aely had been accustomed to in camps – being in the city and so near the pub meant a constant stream of people, plus the watch was there, and heavy plated boots would clank by every half hour. Add in the quarter-hour chimes from the Cathedral and Aely’d learned to sleep pretty soundly.
Still, Roger’s wet nose on the back of her neck was expected, even an hour before dawn.
She tumbled out of bed, pulling on a loose linen shirt and some soft cotton pants, routine taking over where mental awareness lacked. Lighting a small lamp, she laced on soft leather boots… and remembered.
“Righ’ – ye min’ takin’ a run wi’ Arrens, ‘stead ay jus’ us, Rog?”
Roger wagged his whole back half, prancing around.
“… I’ll take ye dinna mind.”
Roger’s braided leather leash hung just next to the door, with her keys. She grabbed both and headed up the stairs – sparing a quick glance in the little mirror and glowering at the unruly red mess hanging around her face. Roger waited impatiently, whining, his nose pressed against the doorjam, while she ran her fingers through it, tying it back.
“A’righ’ – a’righ. Le’s go, yeh?”
Arrens was waiting when she walked outside, Roger running up to him, sniffing the warlock. “Good morning to you, my dear.” He kissed her gently. The cold, brisk air was a pleasant wake-up call, the gust of wind stinging Arrens’ arms exposed in his sleeveless shirt, linen pants offering little in the way of warmth. “Now then. You mentioned something about a path in Elwynn?”
Aely clipped the lead on Roger, starting off at a gentle pace for the Stormwind Gate.
“Yeh – ye’ll see. Rog likes it better, ’cause I dinna have t’ keep him tied.”
They ran in comfortable silence, each adjusting to the pace of another runner without too much trouble, through the lighted streets of Stormwind and out past the huge gates. Aely waved at the guard, who grunted back “Morning” before eyeing Arrens somewhat warily. Taking a quick right hand turn past the gates, she led them down through the trees, barely lit as the first hints of sunlight peered over the horizon. “Path goes out ’round Mirror Lake. ‘s a nice spot t’ sit an’ watch th’ sunrise.”
Arrens nodded and smiled, keeping pace stride for stride with the paladin. Normally his mind was focused on the day ahead while he ran, lessons that needed to be taught, important points that needed mentioning and an endless array of meetings with bureaucrats to justify the kingdom’s tax money used to keep the school open.
He thought of none of that as he ran. Instead, his mind was focused solely on Aely and the distance they put between themselves and the city gate. He allowed her a moment to get several paces in front of him, watching from behind as her ponytail bobbed up and down with her graceful movements. “Gods, she’s beautiful,” he thought. “And runs like a deer!” He picked up his pace and was soon beside her once more.
She led them around the lake, the sky over Elwynn slowly turning from black to grey to a soft orange, as the sun threatened to creep above the horizon. The path curved and then inclined sharply, and Aely slowed to a walk, laughing.
“Ye’ve go’ me near t’ beat. I cannae tell if I’m tryin’ t’ keep up wi’ ye, air outrun ye, but … I’ll be glad t’ stop a moment.”
Arrens grinned, pushing ahead of her a bit before turning around and walking backwards. “You weren’t kidding about the hill. How much farther up?”
“Nae much – see th’ turn, passes right ’round those rocks? ‘s a spot t’ sit just above.” Roger bounded ahead of them, his seemingly endless energy rather astounding the two rather winded humans behind him. They turned the corner together. Aely’d timed it right, for once, and the view over the top of the forest, out toward Redridge was picturesque, early morning fog clinging to the trees as the sun finally made his lazy, winter appearance.
Arrens practically fell alongside a tree, his breathing heavy, sweat staining his shirt. He propped his back along the tree feeling the chill morning dew beneath him. Aely sat down between his outstretched legs and leaned in close, his arms wrapping around her. “It really is quite lovely,” he said, nuzzling his nose into her hair.
She smiled, taking several long breaths to try and cool down. “Yeh – I like watchin’ th’ sunrise. If I’ve gotta be up this early? Might as well get sommat out ay doin’ so. I dinna always get th’ timin’ right though. Must be y’r good luck.” She folded her arms over his, enjoying the closeness.
“Best part is? W’r nearly done too. Path’s near a circle, an’ we’ve made most ay it.” She pointed off to her left, the tops of the Stormwind gates visible through the sun-streaked fog. “An’ I’ll admit t’ bein’ pretty worn… as much as I dinnae wan’ t’ go back just yet.”
“I’ve several hours until my class starts. And I’ll be honest, I’ve not been pushed that hard in quite some time. Perhaps…perhaps we can take our time getting back.” His breathing once more returning to normal, he turned Aely’s face to his and kissed her deeply as the sun crept over the horizon.
December 2, 2009 – 9:47 am
A new movie has been announced, and your character has been asked to be part of the story. As such, you have to come up with someone to play your character in a film!
Who would it be?
A few things –
- This movie has an unlimited budget. Feel free to pick someone famous or not-famous, or from TV, Hollywood, Overseas, Stage Acting, whatever. The idea is to find someone who LOOKS LIKE your character. (Which probably means this will be a pretty star-studded list, but that’s ok!)
- Bonus points if they also sound like your character, but feel free to find a different actor/ess to voice your character if necessary.
- IMDB is your friend, as is Google Image Search – but please DO NOT hotlink images. It’s not nice.
- Comments will take a little extra time to show up, since they’ll contain links to external sites and I’ll have to approve them. Normally this means you are all spared 42 page lists of links to nakey people, but today it’ll mean a bit of moderation duty on my part. Do not fret!
And since I”m sure you’re all curious… Aely could only be played by Miranda Otto.
Perfect skin, right face, little smile, right hair texture – make it long enough to sit on and bright copper red. Add a pair of hazely-green contacts?
Perfect. (Though Aely would be wearing a long-sleeved shirt!)
Annie Mae would be Jennifer Nettles (only… really short and dark brunette.)
I’ll have to get back to you for Angoleth and Anzefi… Anzefi’s particularly hard, since she’s taken a lot of inspiration from Naomie Harris’ portrayal of Tia Dalma (the accent… oh the accent…), but it’s hard to just pick an actress and give her a huge electric teal mohawk and tusks!
And yes, this idea is shamelessly stolen from the Wildfire Riders RP board. But that’s never stopped me before!
December 1, 2009 – 10:18 am
Today’s post is collaborative, and you can read it over at Arrens.net.
…you’ve been warned. <grin>