Collaborative writing - a whole new dimension?

edited May 2014 in Writing
Hi everyone, greetings from across the North Sea! That's Holland to be precisely. I was wondering. Perhaps you wanna join me in thinking out loud. The thing is this. I am discussing new ways of bringing intriguing material, with a special emphasis on journalism and research, to a reading and/or viewing audience, with a Dutch publisher who has contacts all over the globe.

As you know, publishers simply have to these days, for economic reasons, competition from new media, etc. Because of the type of material, we are looking to work together with experienced (screen)writers in the English and/or American-English language, with a journalistic background.

Collaborative writing may work both ways. Either novelization: fleshing out screenplay material.
Or producing screenplays / dramatized documentaries based on original material and research.

Let me know what your thoughts are.


  • Hello. :)

    Collaborative writing has been going on for a long time...
  • Hi Carol, I guess that the title does not quite cover what we're suggesting. Obviously, in many ways collaborative writing can be called the rule rather than the exception, from Woodward & Bernstein up to writing teams responsible for the individual characters in a TV series.

    Writing can be defined in all sorts of ways. Basically there are two: have something worth wile telling to the public and the craftsmanship of writing a good book or screenplay. Plenty of craftsmen out there. They can be matched with people with a highly original idea, premise or story line.
  • Sorry if I sounded flippant voyager, but every so often we get people join up to promote themselves or their project, they don't take part in anything else going on in the forum (serious or not), and make no effort to discover more.

    We all write very different things, and those who want to collaborate on projects have usually already done so.

    Ideally stick around and contribute...
  • edited May 2014
    I was also trying to convey the publisher's viewpoint, and did not perse want to discuss the art of writing itself. Is that considered a prerequisite before posting new subjects? I realize that I am a newbie here. But let's say that you happen to have a question regarding the Dutch readers market, wouldn't you use a forum like this one? I apologize if you think I am a bit too straight forward.
  • No, it's not a prerequisite, it's just how you wrote the post rang the alarm bells.

    We get regular spam hits as the week goes on, and unfortunately your post was set out in the similar format...

    If you introduce yourself on a new thread and tell the members about your writing aims and so on, others will say hello and if they have anything to say on this thread they'll add it. :)
  • Your scope seems very wide and unfocused and not explained properly, I suspect we are all wondering what on earth you are talking about.
  • edited May 2014
    Okay. Again, please understand that we are new to this forum, and we chose not to pitch anything concrete right off the bat. That would have been rude indeed. Secondly, pardon our English. We're Dutch, so mistakes and miscommunicating can slip into what we bring forward, and some things we discuss may well sound quite trivial to you. In that case we hope you won't get irritated.

    You have must-read authors and must-read material. Now let's say, to be a bit more concrete, that a Dutch publisher got hold of a 'must-read' manuscript or account, a diamond in the rough, by an unknown writer who did some digging (research) into a certain subject that people in a lot of countries would be interested in. The 'old school' of doing things is to have it published in the language of origin, in our particular case: Dutch. However, to reach the widest audience possible, it would be wise to right away aim for publishing this in the English language. Non-literary manuscripts in general need editing any way. In our particular case, the 'diamond in the rough' is already written in 'bare bones' English (if that is the proper term). What makes more sense than to look for ways (incl. posting on this forum - thanks for that) to draw the attention of experienced writers/editors who think they would fit the bill.

    The second aspect, is what 'format' to choose. Personally, I love documentaries. But who took the trouble of watching the BBC documentary on "how it all started with regard to the invasion in Iraq" (incl. British involvement)?... There's a saying in screenwriting: anyone can provide factual accuracy, however, bringing a compelling story that feels genuine, is the real challenge. No better suspense than what may well happen... or is about to take place. Novelization as well as screenwriting, or 'crossbreeding' what's essentially intriguing material, is something we would like to take into the equation from the get go.
  • Hi Voyager,

    It sounds like you're looking for a ghost writer - someone with writing talent who can tell another person's story in an engaging way. Usually ghost writers work on non-fiction (celebrity "autobiographies" being the most obvious example), but there are plenty who write novels. I believe James Patterson's approach is similar to what you are describing - he'll provide the 'bare bones' of a thriller, then hand it over to somebody else to do the actual writing. This is how he manages to produce four or five bestsellers every year!

    I think the main issue with what you are describing is that anybody taking on the challenge would need to fully understand the legal side of the writing partnership. If the book/screenplay was a huge success, it might be difficult to determine exactly whose story it is - the person who provided the idea and framework, or the person who turned it into the compelling page-turner everyone wants to read? I don't think anybody would want to get involved without knowing exactly what the situation would be with regard to 'ownership' of the material.

    You'd have to consider the complexity of working in the way you're suggesting against the (possibly) more manageable approach of getting the book published in the Netherlands and then seeking foreign translations. It may take longer, but as the Stieg Larsson books showed, success in a small market can be a springboard to becoming a huge international phenomenon.

    Whichever way turns out to be the right one for you, I wish you the best of luck with your project. It sounds interesting.
  • Linked in might be your best bet if you're head-hunting ghost-writers, script doctors etc

    A good writer can apply mythic structure to any problem, development, resolution scenario, and make it compelling. Horizon scripts are always given the quest treatment. The conclusion often falls a bit flat after the heraldic build up.
  • Hi Voyager

    Danfango has nailed what you're probably after. Hope you find someone suitable.
  • edited May 2014
    Thanks for the feedback, dear people. I guess that it will need to be more of a 'collaborative fiction venture thing'. So, more Woodward & Bernstein/Nicci French than let's say Ewan McGregor ghost writing for the Tony Blair-inspired Adam Lang figure. Did you see the movie? That means that the rights issue will need to be clear, I agree. I think that we may be able to come up with a profile of the type of collaborator we are looking for in the coming days. The research-based story line makes a powerful case for itself, we think: quest-like, rewarding at the end, yet highly unexpected. Subliminal in its messaging, that mistakes made in the past will ricochet. Hope it does not sound stupid so far.
    (to be cont'd)
  • This post gave me a sore head
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