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Collaborative Process, Nabity-style

In a reply to my last entry, JT asked a good question about the collaborative process that Eric and I engage in. The reply because post-sized:

My journal entries tend to simplistically reflect  my side of the process.

We each have our role, and our roles are complementary.

I’m pretty bad with plot. Given enough time, I could probably become competent at cobbling together enough "and then this happens" to form a novel, but it wouldn’t be pretty. My strength is stringing words together in a (hopefully) clear and (hopefully) compelling manner that form characters and places and things.

Eric is full of story ideas, and I hear a fraction of them. I’d say that when he proposes an idea it’s already gone through a fairly rigorous crap filter. What Eric can’t do is write. Well, he can and he can do it quite well, but it’s a torturous process. I can’t fathom how it could take a week to craft 1000 words of prose, but that’s around Eric’s speed. Conversely, he doesn’t understand that I don’t immediately see how the actions of characters will naturally play out.

So together, we’re closer to being a whole writer than we are apart. But that doesn’t quite explain the process.

What I depict is the easily quantifiable part: I write, submit for critique, rewrite, repeat. What goes on behind that is hard to nail down. There are cases in which Eric offers an idea, I pull a face and voice my doubts, and force him to rigorously defend his position. That usually results in either my being convinced or Eric talking himself out of the idea. He does occasionally writes a passage that I can’t quite handle. And then I smooth it out.

It may be dangerous and non-PC, but this is not an even relationship. I’m filtering Eric’s vision through my writing. The core ideas are his. This doesn’t mean I don’t add to it. Some of the best bits happen when I spring something on Eric (a locked tinder box, an extra character named Balito), but in the end what I write has to be consistent with his initial ideas.

Bad analogy: It’s like he has an idea for an all-salmon menu, but I have to come up with the individual dishes. As soon as I decide that trout should be substituted for salmon or that a salmon/chocolate sorbet is a good idea, I’ve deviated from the idea too much. On the other hand, I can say that it’s a bad idea to have a salmon-based desert and suggest something that works, but isn’t salmon.

Do I occasionally feel picked on during the process? Of course, but I generally trust Eric’s judgment and he keeps away from being critical of my writing style and the like. Unfortunately it’s always the things that need work that get attention. "Good job on that" should carry more weight, but "this is wrong for the following reasons" gets more time. And I’m sure Eric has his anxieties when broaching a new idea. I know I hate explaining mine.

In the end, if I can’t get behind the vision, it’s not going to work. Zeta Iota wasn’t working. I couldn’t put enough of me in it to write anything but bland prose. The hope with Luck for Hire is that this is a vision I can play around in. We’ll see how it goes.