History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Collaborative writing

I participated in a bit of an experiment today. The goal: have five authors work collaboratively on a story to conclude an upcoming anthology. Having never worked on anything of the sort, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I also went in feeling a wee bit intimidated, as everyone else involved is a bit more published than me.

Now, my only question is: how did people work on collaborative stories before Google Docs? There were certainly flaws (“Where did my butter arm go?!” was stated on more than one occasion… but you had to be there for that to make sense), but it was a whole lot smoother than having to send around a Word document or pen and paper. A couple of people (using Chrome, oddly enough) had their browsers crash while we were all working in the document, but it still saved their work.

Overall, it went swimmingly. We could have two (or more) characters carry on a conversation that sounded natural, because different authors could write for different characters. We could suggest plot twists to each other either aloud or in the document, and watch as the idea we had given unfolded in front of us. And when we got stuck, we could scroll up and read what other people were writing and mine it for possibilities.

We certainly didn’t finish the story this morning, but we pumped out a respectable 4,000 words. There are still a few more scenes to write, and a whole lot of tweaking and editing that needs to take place, but for the most part, we have more than half of a story with five authors done. I’ll be poking my head into the shared doc now and then over the next week to help finish it up, but I can’t wait until we have our final version published. It’s going to be awesome!

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