If you’re going to join the collab life, you don’t want to link up with just any random person on the internet. You want it to be the right person, or at least a person that you have the best chance of writing a great story with. So where is that person? How do you find them and get the process started?
One possible way to approach it is by first figuring out what kind of project you want to collaborate on. What genres do you want to work in? What message or themes do you want your story to have? Is there anything you definitely wouldn’t want to include? What elements of a story are most important to you? Once you’ve asked yourself some of these questions (and probably more that I’m not even thinking of), you might start to seek out someone who seems to value the same things.
Are you part of any kind of writing community online? Maybe you’re a unicorn who has in-person writer friends. Either way, it’s time to take a look at what the writers around you are creating. Hopefully you will stumble across someone who is already putting out work that you connect with. If you read someone’s work and think I really want to write like this person and/or I feel like I’m reading something out of my own brain, then there’s a good chance you’ve found the person you need to reach out to.
Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that the work and the person are separate. For example, it might seem fun to write a story with your best friend. But if your friend is into tortured antiheroes and you like clear lines between good and evil, then the two of you probably won’t be compatible cowriters. You have two totally different philosophies on what a good story is, and that will show in the work. Also, if you’re working with someone and your conversations just stay awkward forever (this seems unlikely but I guess it could happen), that might not be the right partnership for you. Ideally, you want to find someone you can have fun with, and who wants to say the same things you do in a similar style to yours.
Mind you, I didn’t follow any of this practical advice when I started writing with Ris. I just said yes because I was ready for a change of pace, and it ended up working out great. If your writing life is in need of a shake-up, you might enjoy this approach even more. Maybe you reach out on a whim to someone who seems cool and see what happens. There’s no harm in that! But I would say try not to be too disappointed if the work doesn’t quite flow. Like any other creative pursuit, writing has an element of magic to it that sometimes defies logic. Maybe you live in totally different worlds, genre-wise, and when you come together you create a really cool fusion of those worlds. Differences are there to be celebrated, but you and your cowriter do need to have the same core ideas about what makes a story great. If you start there, most creative disagreements can be worked out if you’re determined enough. So get to know your fellow writers, learn their stories and their styles. The right collaborator might be closer than you think.
Marissa and I would love to hear your collaboration stories (or worries, or questions!) Feel free to share your experiences in the comments!