Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

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BobbyBear84
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Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#1 Post by BobbyBear84 » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:28 am

I'm currently working on my first game, and I'm playing with the idea of trying to find a co-writer. What are your thoughts on this?

Do you prefer writing alone or do you like bringing in a co-writer? If you have in the past, how was the experience? Was it someone you knew, or was it someone you found on a board like this?

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#2 Post by RunicV » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:36 am

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#3 Post by BobbyBear84 » Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:48 am

While I appreciate the link, I kind of wanted to hear other people's experiences with working with a co-writer, and why they would or would not recommend it.

(While the link does cover that material, and well I might add, I'm basically looking for people's experiences here, specifically with working on VN's.)

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#4 Post by Hellboy » Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:20 pm

My only experience with a co-writer is a very lame one. I’ll share it with you.

I’m not good at putting my ideas in order, so I talked with a good friend from University who claimed to be super-awesome at writing and mega-imaginative. His words were: “I’ll give you a whole universe of ideas”, so, cool, he’d do the writing and I’d do... the rest. It’ll be fun!

However, his concept of “universe of ideas” was rip off Resident Evil and change the names. -.- (he’s obsessed with Resident Evil).

I actually starter worrying when he claimed we were going to make lots of money and found a video game studio and whatever. My idea was just to have fun with a friend doing a free game for a hobby.

Something else that bothered me was that he didn’t followed a writing plan or structure according to what we were supposed to be doing, he just went ahead and wrote a cinematic script full of intricate movie-like details and animated narration that could not be transferred to a graphic adventure (we were going to do a graphic adventure).
I asked him from the beggining if he knew what graphic adventures were and send him links to games so he could write according to the genre.
Like a month later he confessed he never checked them and that he was just doing a script for a PlayStation game like Resident Evil or Metal Gear or whatever. When he finally checked the links he was like “those games look so boring”.
I told him that it’s what I can do with my (lack of) scripting abilities and that I asked him from the beginning if was fine with that.

At that point I was already “meh” about him being onboard or not. However he claimed he was just waiting for vacations to fully work on the writting. Well, vacations started a month ago and the project is at the same point he left it months ago.

I did my part doing character designs, studying the engine, creating the base 3D models, anything I could do to make progress, but nothing else was moving and without a story, there’s not much you can do, besides he’s pretty fixed on what he wants visually, but I have to guess what that is, I’m also kinda tied on designs and stuff.

So then I decided to start a fresh new project all on my own and use Rem’py instead while I get more experience. Now I’m working full on this and doing much better and faster alone.

Of course I don’t want to scare you and others might be more responsible and dedicated, probably a lot of help and fun. But my advice, based on my only experience is:
If you decide to work with someone, make sure its a RESPONSIBLE person, a REALISTIC person, also make sure s/he completely understands the whole concept, limit what each of you will be doing and what each of you can do with each others work.

In short: DO ON YOUR OWN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. AVOID CO-WORKERS IF POSSIBLE. :evil:

Good luck.
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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#5 Post by specialtantei » Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:26 pm

Even though I like to write solo, there's something I don't mind doing which is exchaning ideas with my team. Taking into account that making a game inside a team is pretty different from doing everything on your own, I just can't write anything that pops to my mind and present it to them. What I did was show them a plan of the game's main events and ask for their opinions. We all tweak the script together.
My point is, if you don't really feel like writing together with someone else, don't do it, though I promise that with the right people something even better than your original premise might appear. ;)

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#6 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:40 pm

My advice on working with co-writers is the same as it is for working with anyone else. First off, don't work with friends. They'll take advantage of your friendship to be lazy and slack off, knowing you aren't likely to hate them or fire them for doing so. Instead get together with a stranger that has proven themselves as dedicated to projects as you are - if you become friends through working together, well, that's great. Only work with friends that have proven themselves on previous personal or group projects. That way you know they can contribute and know what they're doing, and aren't just hopping on board to "do something fun" with a friend. A day outing is fun. Making matching T-shirts is fun. Going on a road trip is fun. Spending weeks or months working on something together that has days or weeks where everything done is "boring" is not something a lot of friends will consider fun, and as soon as it stops being fun for them, they'll start finding excuses not to do it anymore.

As for co-writing itself, almost every writing pair handles it differently. I know two of my favorite authors brainstorm plot details and world building extensively with each other, and each heavily creates or focuses on certain characters. Then one of them writes a first draft, then the other rewrites it. They do this back and forth until they are both happy with the result.

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#7 Post by MarineScripter » Wed Dec 26, 2012 9:49 pm

I'm not one that's very good at working with other people who are doing the same thing as I am. I'm doing fine working with an artist, but my experience working with a co-writer was disatrous--but purely my own fault due to my own stubbornness.
I like reading things co-written however, because seeing two styles swirl around in a project is fascinating.
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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#8 Post by dramspringfeald » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:31 pm

Depends, do you know anyone who is willing to sick around for 2 or even 4 years working on a project for free? Because the answer to that question is the same for yours.
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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#9 Post by KittyKatStar » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:20 pm

What are your thoughts on this?

Do you prefer writing alone or do you like bringing in a co-writer? If you have in the past, how was the experience? Was it someone you knew, or was it someone you found on a board like this?


Most of my experience just comes from writing short stories and/or RPing, not actual games. But I'll do my best, and maybe you'll find similarities in it. I've co-written with a small group of writers for 3-4 years, and we're still pretty close. In fact some of them are working on their own games now. (We do toss the idea of co-writing a game in the future though.)

It really depends on the situation, I love writing alone and writing with a co-writer. Some projects/stories I feel are too personal to really share (I want 100% control on it) but if you're able to think of something you don't mind only having half ownership, it's great.

Um, my experience from the beginning...

Once I find that writer... we chat and see our compatibility through storyboarding/plots. Basically I'd write down the basic plot, and throw it to him/her. S/he would read it over, add his/her bit, critique and hand it back to me. So it's basically just throwing snowballs of ideas until something sticks that we *both* like, or we find a way to compromise. i.e. I want this message to be told, but I'm fine if it's used in a subplot and not the main story. By this point you generally get an idea of whether the chemistry with this co-writer will be strong.

We design the characters needed. These characters are our own. They have roles to the plot, but they're our own characters. So I'll write these 2-3 characters, and s/he will write these 2-3 characters (or how many it's needed.) It's basically like RPing, but we write in the same document. I'll write something my character does, and s/he'd respond.

It's really fun, it goes super fast (time flies like CRAZY), you can get like 10K+ done in a day. Also you can watch out for each other's typos, or raise a point if something is odd (i.e. "um, this isn't possible, lemme research this for you") or if there's a plot hole surfacing.

The experience was wonderful, and sometimes we would admit it was hard to write alone. XD Since there was always someone there to help with ideas, or give you that boost of confidence/motivation when you were in a slump. It's great for character interaction, or helping with plots that feel complicated (mysteries, etc.)

You basically gotta know when to be flexible, and can go with the flow. You have to learn not to get attached to an idea/scenario *too* strongly because it may have to be altered, or the event won't happen because the plot went in another direction, etc.

But sometimes surprises are fun too, since it keeps you on your toes and you learn more about the characters.

Cons - when the co-writer is busy, interests change/shift, you bump heads over something, someone starts to get *too* controlling, etc. It's pretty much like a relationship/friendship with trust, understanding, respect, and being able to meet in the middle.

So overall my experience was a positive one. If you and that co-writer share the same passion, I wish you the best of luck. ^^
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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#10 Post by iiStarCandy » Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:50 pm

First off, congrats on starting your first game! I'm starting mine too. ^^
If you're going to look for a co-writer, I think it would be better not to ask someone flat out to help you. It would be better to maybe announce that you are looking for one, and work with someone who seems the most interested.

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#11 Post by Azotal » Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:43 pm

One of the problems I had with writing with a partner was that our writing styles were very different. It led to problems when the flow of the story would jump from his style to my style. I think if you've got someone you're confident you can work well with, it's worth writing with them, but if not, don't. It does cut down the writing time and potential for writers block significantly though.

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#12 Post by astrobread » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:14 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:My advice on working with co-writers is the same as it is for working with anyone else. First off, don't work with friends. They'll take advantage of your friendship to be lazy and slack off, knowing you aren't likely to hate them or fire them for doing so.
Another reason to be very wary of this is that you might actually start to hate them for it. The only person I'll co-write with is one of my best friends, but I've been in this sort of situation with others and it can strain a friendship. That's a risk you won't have working with a stranger.

If you are considering working with a friend, start small. Save the sprawling epic of your dreams until after you've established the creative relationship and built up trust in each other. That way if things don't work out, it'll be much easier to walk away from. Because even if you're both dedicated, the chemistry may just not be there.

When it is though, yeah co-writing is awesome. It energizes the whole process, similar to having a very excited reader. Your strengths combine together into something greater and you feel more confident in the work.

However it's worth keeping in mind that not every project is equal. For example, my co-writer and I simply could not get a novel to work. Our writing styles were just too different. Later, we adapted the idea into an audio play and suddenly it's picking up speed again. So each pairing has it's own strengths and weaknesses that you have to figure out as you go along.

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#13 Post by Vegeluxia » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:41 pm

BobbyBear84 wrote:I'm playing with the idea of trying to find a co-writer. What are your thoughts on this?
If you’re not willing to potentially compromise on everything you write, don’t do it. You have to be very open to the suggestions of your co-writer. If you’re not, they might not tolerate it and leave.

BobbyBear84 wrote:Do you prefer writing alone or do you like bringing in a co-writer? If you have in the past, how was the experience? Was it someone you knew, or was it someone you found on a board like this?
Most of the time, I prefer to work alone. I’ve been in situations where all of my ideas have been shot down or ignored and the other person just did what they wanted. It’s incredibly annoying---especially to have your name put on something you’re not at all proud of, or something you were proud of that was butchered.

However, I’m currently working on a fairly large project with my best friend. I agree with what has been said about working with friends, but I asked her to help me because I wanted to include elements that she has far more experience with than myself, we’re very straight with each other, and we have an incredibly strong friendship. The project has been running very smoothly in all the months we’ve been working---but we both accepted a long time ago that we just can’t work together in person. We always wind up doing other things or just aren’t as productive as we are working online.

The thing is though, we’re both very dedicated to the project because we have a common goal in mind. We’ve tried in the past to work on things for fun together, but we just can’t. The energy just dies too fast or we just get too distracted. Without a carrot dangling in front of us, there’s not much incentive. It’s also not just like working on a project by yourself where, if you want to take a break, you can pick it up later and get enthused again.

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#14 Post by Nisa-chan666 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 3:01 pm

The only time that I've tried to co-write a project was a novel idea that I wanted to try. So I got together with a bunch of my friends and we brainstormed a setting, some characters and how those characters would interact. We decided that we would each write for a particular character and alternate between us. Most of us got our chapter done no problem. The last member of the group never got back to us. To be honest, I probably should have guessed it would happen: she was added to the group very last minute on my sister's request, she didn't turn up to the brainstorming session and when we did get her character description it was a less homicidal version of Lucy from Elfen Lied. The project sort of fell apart after that and I could not have been more angry :evil: I had spent a good chunk of my summer organising people and coming up with the initial idea to begin with, so for it to be scuppered by someone else's laziness was infuriating.

In terms of a visual novel, I haven't had any co-writing experience, but I would imagine I would be very hard to work with. When it comes to my ideas and writing, I often have a very clear idea of what I want the story and characters to be. So I guess I would recommend it if you can find someone reliable and laid-back enough to let you work with them in the first place.

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Re: Writing Solo or Writing with a Co-Writer?

#15 Post by Rinrinnya » Wed Mar 13, 2013 7:49 pm

The real visual novel pros have tons of co-writers. ^^ A few people writing one or two routes each, and sometimes assistants to go research things for them. So it definitely can work out if, like what was said above, you don't write with your friends and all writers take the job seriously.
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