Collaborative writing is not for everyone.

It cannot be stressed enough that collaborative fiction writing is not for everyone. In no way does it mean that one person is a better (or worse) writer or human being than another. It is natural and normal for writers get very attached to their work and characters, and while it’s understandable, it’s not appropriate in any collaborative setting, but specifically within the project, where the stories or project needs to agree and form a cohesive whole. Stories and characters need to remain flexible to ensure the story flows – despite thirteen writers all having their hands on it at some time or another. The CYOA project particularly pushes the boundaries even further, asking writers to immerse themselves in the cobweb of editing – specific for the needs of this style of collaboration.

Being part of a collaborative project such as this gives writers, editors and beta readers the opportunity to network, to strengthen their skills, to teach and to be taught and form a strong community of passionate writers who will no doubt remain in contact with you long after the project has been completed. You have the opportunity to allow this talented community to become your peer group – a much sought after existence amongst many writers who for many reasons feel isolated or alone in their craft.  These people will promote, celebrate and encourage you through your journey as a writer and editor.

Collaborative writing allows a story to grow and be strengthened in ways that a single writer could not imagine to take it. Subtleties, character development and introduction of fringe characters bring this experience into an incredible journey for all involved. Its highly possible that the genre the series you are about to be involved in is one that you have either never written/ read before. Only you can answer the question as to if you want to be involved with it or not. Perhaps exploring this new territory will open up a niche market for you, or explode new possibilities within your creativity. In any case – writing in an unfamiliar genre is made smoother as a group whose outcome is to have fun and push the boundaries as they go.

This project has some specific demands on its team members.  Top ones include access and use of Skype as our RTC ( real time communication link), willingness to commit to the project and team members and to communicate openly and frequently. Given the tight time frames of each project, frequency of checking on emails and messages needs to  be at least twice a day, with RTCs at least every week. In addition, one on ones between editor and writers would be projected to taking place at least once a fortnight.

Team members are drawn from individuals around the world.  As such, there will need to be a degree of flexibility within teams when agreeing on the RTCs. Whole team RTCs are paramount to the success of the collaborative process in which this project is based.  If you can’t commit to at least one early morning/ late evening/ personally inconvenient time slot in order for the group to ‘meet up’ on line, then please reconsider your application. Bottom line – Time Zones are going to be inconvenient.. but its for a finite project; so only you can decide if you are willing to put up with the hassle during this time or not.

This process demands that team members constantly refer back to source material for details and to update these shared documents with further details and information.

Beta Readers : The writing process is enriched through feedback from beta readers. Whilst they assist both editors and writers through their constructive critique of characters and pacing, their main role is to act as an unbiased set of eyes. They are involved throughout the entire process, reading drafts and polished pieces as they are submitted to the editor. These valuable members of the team are very often the unsung heros of any project and work closly with both editors and writers in one on one situations. Our beta readers are usually drawn from writers who have other current commitments, or by those who wish to experience the process at an arms length; before committing to the next series. Ideally Each team would have one beta reader assigned to it. (However – the more the merrier!)Beta readers are required for the entire 12 week process and at this point are not compensated or receive payment for their involvement.

Writers: Over the 10 weeks a writer is involved, they will produce at least four chapters of the story, each chapter ranging between 500 words to 1000 words. Writers work in groups of three with guidance from their editor and assisted by at least one Beta Reader. As a writer, your commitment will be not only to write the drafts , but to be timely with alterations and edits, working closely with your editor, other writers and your beta reader. Other writers will be relying on your stories in order to continue with theirs. The editing process will be unlike any that you are likely to encounter on any other project. Within the space of a week, your first draft will be read, with suggested changes sent back to you asking it be turned around with days.   Make no mistake, this is high pressured writing, crafted in order to push you as a writer, forcing you to dig deep to create.

Once all of the stories have been submitted as finals, there will be additional adjustments and edits which will need to take place, in order for the story to read cohesively. Writers will need to be prepared to work with editors to craft and hone their stories at this late stage.  There is also the point where the stories are woven together and sadly some details need to be cut or edited for cohesion of the entire story. Writers are ALWAYS given the option to re-write or re-edit when these changes are made and are kept in the loop with regards to any possible changes. The last part of the editing stage is done on a live – but hidden website – so is immedialty available for all team members to view.  Writers need to be aware that this part of the process takes editing to different place than ‘traditional’ or ‘standard’ editing.

Writers are required for at least an 10 week block (dependant upon final drafts and alterations)

Editors: It is envisaged that only participants who have completed a series previously are invited to lead a team of writers and edit within this project. Regardless of the project, editing is time and energy consuming. This project has high demands of an editor, requiring them to to both lead a small team of writers, assisting them in the process, being the conduit of information and administering the drafts as they are polished. After writers have completed their stories, editors work together to line edit; a time consuming task by anyones standards.

Editors not only work with their teams, but collaborate with each other and work closely with the Mystress Weaver throughout the process. The demands on their time is high, with a focus on flexibility and team work. They need to be organised and timely with their submissions and feedback.

Editors are required for the entire 13 week process.

Writers, editors and to an extent, beta readers, work under strict time frames; where the entire project will hinge on particular stories submitted at specific times. All participants require a willingness to look at the project and story as a whole is encouraged along with flexibility and a sense of humour. All team members are reminded that although the project is intended to be light hearted and enjoyable, there is the demand for professional behaviour and conduct when dealing with one another.

A collaborative project needs all participants to commit to the entire process. Obviously, ‘life’ happens and should an unfortunate event occur, team members will work together to cover and assist to ensure the project is not halted.  However, ( and this is said with all intended gentleness) please don’t agree or apply to be part of a series where your calendar has pre-existing engagements, or forms a time in your family life where it is busy or full.

Each Series will have a “Call Out” – asking for team members to apply to join. Its managed through Submishmash and will be advertised through the facebook page as well. Hang out and wait for one of these to apply.

That being said, ( and you you haven’t been scared off) if you are up for a challenge and the opportunity to improve your story writing skills in a collaborative setting, willing to work closely with an editor under tight time frames, then send a short bio (20 – 50 words) about yourself, your aspirations or journey in writing, at least one  link to a short story you have recently written and submit to Mystress Weaver.  She’ll keep your details handy for the next Call Out.