Tag Archive for: group project

Group Disaster or Group Gold?

by Bethany Maines

One of my latest writing projects
is writing a joint project with my writers group of three friends. I’ve met
several people who have done co-writing (the Stiletto Gang’s very own Evelyn
David, for instance), but as far as I can tell a group novel is either
extremely rare or just not done. 
As my group of friends struggled our way through the initial phases of
just how we were going to do this thing, I could definitely see why it was so
rare.  It’s hard.  We all have different interests,
different levels of time available, and different views of how work should
My initial instinct was to treat
the whole thing rather like one of my work projects.  So the first thing I did in this oh, so creative of projects
was to create a spreadsheet.  I
assigned jobs, estimated hours, traced what I thought was a likely work-flow,
and estimated costs.  Some of the
group were much relieved by this gridded representation of a future novel.  One of us was horrified.  It was if I had taken her writing
butterfly and shoved a pin through it. 
The idea of scheduling and circumscribing writing and creativity into
neat little boxes was repugnant to her. 
Not to mention the fact that it meant that one of her friends would now
be her “boss” – telling her when to get pages done and nagging her during what
she thought of as her escape.  And
then we started emailing each other about our concerns (most of us don’t live
next to each other) and it got even worse.  How could four people who are relatively competent at the
written word communicate so badly?  
I’m still not sure, but we managed it.  But things rebounded once we talked in person or on the
phone.  It’s amazing the amount of
difference that vocal inflections and facial expressions make.
So, here we are, on the verge of
starting our project – we’re still friends and we think we have a system and a
plot mapped out.  Now comes the
interesting part – the writing. 
I’ll keep you posted as to how this experiment goes!  With any luck we can churn out a
compelling mystery and still like each other at the end.

Bethany Maines is the author of
the Carrie Mae Mystery series and 
Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube
video or catch up with her on 
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