Tag Archive: collaborating



Having finally gotten moved out of my old apartment at CSUMB, and into a new one, I can finally start getting back to regular postings here.  I’m not taking any classes this semester either which also frees me up to do more writing in the future.  And let me tell you all, I’ve been feeling the itch something fierce.  Some days I think of myself as a parent whose been neglecting his kids, and I’ve hated it.  But this doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking and plotting like crazy.  Once I get going again, which will be soon, look out.  I’ve got plot twists and turns that will make a game of Twister played by a bunch of octopuses, look boring.

However, I haven’t only been thinking about story ideas, I’ve been thinking about some of my recent experiences with one of my collaborations.  Those who’ve been regular readers have already been introduced to my high school buddy and partner in crime Rich Caminiti.  

We’ve been working on an unusual story that involves certain historic events in the 1800’s and mixing mythical beings from not one but several cultures.  While this may sound complicated, the way we’ve been working the story all of this makes sense and will take the reader on one of the wildest adventures you’ve ever read.

But how we’ve gotten this far is the real topic today.  Our collaboration has been one of friendship, respect, consideration, and trust.  Rich and I are able to raise questions about ideas the other has come up with, without fearing for our friendship.  But how we approach these things is the key.  Being the more experienced writer, I’m more used to scrapping ideas or changing things in mid-stream if it’s not working for the story.  However, not every idea has to be scrapped.  Sometimes they just have to be approached in a different way.

Recently, Rich was designing a scene where our two male protagonist characters (he created one, while I gave life to the other) were having a heated discussion about how to tackle facing an enemy that seemed unstoppable.  I was not keen on this concept at first because it seemed to be a cliche namely “Two alpha males butting heads, but their friendship will survive… yadda- yadda…”

Now as a rule, I try to avoid cliches.  In fact I may set up scenes that seem like they’re going down a familiar path and then stand it on its head and shock the reader with something very different.  I was almost tempted to talk him out of using the scene, but held my tongue because he’d worked so hard and was so keen on the idea.  So I kept my own counsel for a while and my mind kept going back to the problem.  Finally, I started thinking about the situation from the point of view of the “Alpha” I had created.  It occurred to me that what was troubling me with this scene was the fact that my character does not have an “Ego” per se.  He’s not really human so he does not always act or react the way one would expect.  Yet by the same token, he has been a leader of packs before.  Many times in fact.  But he has also relinquished that role because he knows when the pack is relying too much on him, instead of its own kind.

With this in mind I saw the scene Rich had created with new eyes.  The two alphas are surrounded by officers and soldiers who are waiting to be told how to take on their enemy.  My alpha who I call “Hunter” is already held in high esteem by these men and knows they are looking towards him.  But deep down he feels his cohort is better suited to lead this ‘pack’ and allows the tension to grow so that his comrade will be seen in a new light.

When I suggested this angle to Rich his face lit up as we Skype’d.  The whole scene took on a new meaning and direction that he absolutely loved and started running with it.  Hunter’s decision not to be leader becomes even more poignant when it is revealed that he needs his friend to lead the charge on one front, while he takes on the enemy on another front in a battle that will literally shake the heavens.

I love working with Rich for many reasons.  He’s created some excellent scenes that I’ve been able to build upon and vice versa.  Our collaboration is unusual in the fact that we each work on different sections of the story, while keeping one another posted on what’s happening so the other can refer back to those events or have characters react to them.

We also discuss scenes where our characters are together and plot out how to have things unfold then one will write the scene and allow the other to make adjustments for dialogue or behavior that is more fitting for certain characters.  This of course means it takes us longer to finish a story, but the results have been really impressive.  We each bring certain strengths to our endeavor such as his expertise in military manuevers, weapons, chain of command, historical facts, etc.  While I focus on more of the paranormal, or unusual, personalities, behaviors, and making stories go in unexpected directions.  Together we are a stylish team…

Um… well sort of stylish I guess.

Anyway, the thing is with collaborations its important not to get too wedded to certain ideas.  You’re a team.  The story is what’s important.  Check your egos at the door.  And if there’s something you don’t agree on, let it simmer.  Explore and examine the issue from multiple angles and take a variety of approaches.  Maybe in the end it does need to go, but maybe not.  Be ready to compromise without being a doormat.  You’re a team.  Work as one and be prepared to work and rework the story, just like you would one you did completely on your own.

When I write with Rich, or my wife Helen, I want them to shine just as much if not more than me.  I want their contributions and inspirations to be seen and applauded.  Just because I’ve got more stuff out there than they have, doesn’t mean I have all the answers because I don’t.  But I’m more than willing to be taught by them, as they are to learn from me as we continue our writing journey together.

That’s all I’ve got to say for this entry.  If you’ve had any experiences with collaborations and wish to share them, please put them in the comment section below.  We’re all here to learn from one another.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

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In spite of all the excitement of “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home” being released this October, I keep hearing people ask “Whatever happened to “The Door”?  Are you going to finish that storyline with Alex, Veronica, Julie and Cassandra?”  Of course I’m pleased to tell you all the answer is a resounding YES!  I am working on it as we speak in fact.  In fact I’ve been working on it for quite a while… a really long while… like over two years…. (groan)
SMLXL

“What happened?” I hear you ask.  Well it’s quite simple.  I’ve spent the last 24 months with a serious case of too many ideas.  What does that look like you ask?  Here, let me show you.
SMXLL

I keep getting new scenes going that help move the story along but after a while these new ideas wind up derailing the main plot of the story and I have to pull them out again.  And when that happens I end up hitting the infamous “Writer’s Block” and find myself unable to move the story forward.  This has happened a number of times.  Of course, some people will suggest that you have an outline to follow and stick to it.  This is a great idea, but unfortunately in my case, a number of my characters wind up with ideas of their own that are often way better than what I had planned in my outline and things end up going in a completely different direction.  And quite often those new directions are way better than what I had originally had in mind.  So I mainly work with a ‘loose’ outline.  There are some scenes and ideas that I have nailed down for sure, and then areas where I’m still finding a direction to head in.
However, in the case of “The Door” I had a number of scenes that were so solid there was nothing that could make me budge from using them…  and I wound up hitting wall after wall.  I’d go as far as to introduce new characters such as my vampyre Nathan, who makes his debut in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”, at one point.  By adding him I created a bunch of new scenes that really helped the plot along, but also wound up sending the word count skyrocketing.  How did this happen?  By adding Nathan I had to introduce him to the audience, then the other characters, blah-blah-blah… too many words.  But by keeping certain scenes he inspired and giving those scenes to existing characters, I moved the story along much quicker and made those characters more interesting.
Furthermore, when I write a story keeps evolving.  I have a good idea where it begins and ends, but the in between stuff gets fuzzy sometimes.  As I mentioned earlier, my characters sometimes go off in better directions than what I had planned which leads to other problems.  Remember how I mentioned I had certain scenes planned for the story that I was going to use no matter what?  Well, some of those became stumbling blocks and it took me the longest time to come to terms with the fact that they no longer fit the story as it was developing and I had to edit them out…
SLXLM

For me this was hard, because I really fell in love with those planned scenes.  However, as I’ve told many other writers, those scenes will not go to waste.  Instead, I saved them in another file folder on my computer where they will one day see the light of day in another book, where they will fit in just perfectly.
So what shape is “The Door” in now?  Much trimmer and faster-paced than in its previous incarnations.  The story is tense, exciting, full of mystery, with a growing sense of menace that I hope will keep you all on the edge of your seats to the very end.  Certain friends you’ve met before are starting to have an air of menace about them, and will make you wonder if they can still be trusted.  While newer characters will keep you guessing about their allegiances until the very end.
At this point the story is sitting at 50,000 words, and will probably wind up at about 110,000 or less by the time I’m finished.  Many unanswered questions from the first two books “The Bridge” and “The Ship” will be answered.  Furthermore, the fallout from the battle scene with the police at the end of “The Bridge” will be playing a key part in this novel.  I hope to have a completed first draft before the end of the year.
Finally, I’m also working on two collaborations as well.  One is with my wife Helen who co-authored “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  The other is “The Pass” with one of my best friends from high school Richard Caminiti.   He and I hope to have a completed first draft by the end of this year or early next year.
I’m also hoping to have each of them do some blog entries here so you can find out their thoughts on writing and having to put up with me.
Until next time, take care and keep writing my friends.

My Thoughts On Collaboration…


This is a post I’ve been thinking about sharing for some time, but hadn’t because I was actually a little afraid to talk about it.  When it comes to writing, the idea of collaborating with someone else filled me with both excitement and dread.  Especially dread because I am not always that confident in my skills and abilities.

Yet, I seem to be doing something right.  A number of people find this blog quite helpful and offer their own experiences which reflect many of my own.  Furthermore, until now writing has been a solitary activity.  I enjoy being the one to make decisions and not have to worry whether or not I offend someone else or hurt feelings.  Oh, I’ve bounced ideas off certain people I trust, like my wife Helen.  In her case, I do this quite often because I consider her much better read and more knowledgeable about science and logic than me.  But in the end, the final decisions have been all me.  So to surrender some of that control is a big step not only for me, but for any writer.

Yet, I’ve recently started working with not just one, but two different people on collaborations.  I’ve known and trust these two individuals implicitly, (especially since one of them is my wife Helen).  And already I’ve been learning a lot about collaborating and I’ve been finding the experience quite rewarding.

Working with another to create something new offers untold possibilities.  With the right person, the two of you can generate entirely new ideas that you might never have thought of on own.   Everyone walks their own path and has their own experiences and knowledge to draw upon.

In a good collaboration, it’s not just sharing the work.  The two of you actually feed each others imagination.  You work (figuratively or literally) side by side, building and creating something new and exciting.  Everyone has walked their own path and has gained knowledge and life experience that they can share, adding a new melody to the piece in question.

And if you start feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project, there’s someone there to help pull out.

A good collaboration, like the two I’ve been working on, has opened my eyes to untold possibilities.  I can see so many stories looming in the distance and am looking forward to working on them down the road.  But finding the right person to collaborate with… that’s another thing entirely.  And I’ll be dealing with that in my next post.

So start giving the idea of collaboration some thought.  It does hold wonderful possibilities, but it can also bring about new headaches.  So beware!

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

*NOTE: I am not looking to collaborate with anyone else for the time being, so please don’t ask.  I’ve been approached a number of times already and have politely refused.  If you’re wondering why I’ve taken this attitude, wait for my next post and you’ll learn more about me than you probably ever wanted to.*

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