Collaborations are works writers create when they either feel they need to learn something new or just wish to provide a richer narraritive that would otherwise be possible should they do it alone.. It simuiltaneously exposes your working methods yet opens you to new possiblities.
My first collaboration did not turn out very well, as Jeff Kooistra and I began battling over characters, plots, and scenes by trading drafts over eMail. After a while, and 90,000 words later, we decided the plot had become so convoluted that it couldn’t be resolved. We abandoned the effort with no hard feelings since our objective was for me to learn to write better dialogue and Jeff to improve his exposition.
My second collaboration, with Sarah Zettel, produced a story that got on the final Nebula ballot even though she dropped out of the work soon after the work began, but after we had developed the characters in some detail.
Cat Ranbo and I are now are working on a fusion piece titled "Haunted," which looks as though it might turn out to be a novella or novel, given the amount of material in hand and the depth of the story we've outlined.
We’ve been working on a Scrivener project in DropBox. We first sketched out an outline, changed that into a semi-narrative Story Line, modified that with a few more ideas, and then turned each micro-scene into corkboard cards* and began inserting words on our chosen cards/scenes.
Currently I am driving Cat batshit with my endless tinkering with the meta-story, structure, metaphoric parallelism, and chronology**. When I get back from Readercon it will be her turn to drive me crazy.
I tend to plot a story in fair detail and then try to write scenes in sequence while Cat more or less writes in huge, messy, and random blobs that she can later mold into smooth text. Currently neither one of us is looking carefully*** at what the other is doing since we want to get as many ideas written down as we can. In addition, both of us are trying to match the other’s process to achieve some measure of synchronicity and, as far as I'm concerned, working outside of the structure seems to be working for me. At the moment we have a mess of roughly sixteen thousand words and have only half the cards filled out! Both of us also have stuff written off-line that will eventually get pasted into the cards.
At some point a few weeks down the road we will call quits to this first round pre-draft foreplay and begin arranging the material in a sensible order (we’ve laid out the cards in chronological order, but that may/might/will change when we start pounding out a first draft.
After that we’ll really start writing the story.
**I’ll admit I’m a bit anal, controlling, and impatient, but that’s no reason to think I’m hard to work with.
***This probably seems insane unless you know us.