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22 September 2009 @ 11:11 am
Learning from collaboration  
The Event, a collaborative fiction project I’ve been working on with Debbie, Steph, Chris and Jenni, is moving into its final phase. We planned to write 5 parts each, moving through the stages of a major event in Wellington. The plan was to establish the characters in part one, have the event hit in part two, see the characters coping with catastrophe in part three, the immediate aftermath in part four and picking up the pieces in part five. Before we began the only story elements we set in place were that there was something in the water, at first people were drawn to it, then later they would be running away from it.

That’s it. Otherwise, blank slate.

What’s it been like to write without a road map, and with other writers throwing escalating horror into the mix? Fantastic. Absolutely awesome.

Because I like lists, here’s a spoiler free list of why it’s been good and what I’ve learned:

  • A ratio of one part writing to 4 parts reading other people’s stuff and being inspired by it is highly motivating.
  • Seeing other people’s emphasis on establishing a realistic setting, including emotional quandaries, incorporating kiwiana or tackling challenging characters and unconventional writing styles helped me to reflect on my own writing and make some judgements about what my own strengths were.
  • Having to juggle the plot details and horror elements introduced by other authors was a fun challenge that lead to some pretty full-on situations.
  • Increasing the tension is a delicate balancing act between subtle cues and times when you want a huge leap in intensity. That contrast between incremental and overpowering jumps in intensity can be fun to play with.
  • I like writing horror.
  • What you don’t show can be as important as what you do.
  • Being forced by your collaborators’ excellent writing to abandon your first ideas about where a story might go or what you want your character to do can lead to better, richer, more complex second ideas.
  • I really, really like writing horror.
  • Killing bystanders in horror writing is easy. Killing named characters was surprisingly uncomfortable.
Many of these ideas are explored in this post and its comments from NZSpecFicBlogWeek - http://rippatton.livejournal.com/29836.html
Stephanie Peggstephanie_pegg on September 22nd, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
I like this has been forcing me to think about plotting. One of my normal issues as a writer is that I tend to write incidents rather than events, but here, I have a thousand words to make something happen and I have to go for it. It's therapeutic, or something.