Co-writing is an exercise every writer should try at least once. May be you feel that you are not a ‘team person’. You may have certain fixed priorities and personal preferences in mind and you don’t want to be steered away by a writing partner. But still, you should try co-writing on at least an experimental basis. Reasons? I will give you 5.
The learning curve is steeper
Believe me, we all have our own strengths and weakness. Having a co-writer helps to improve that self awareness. What you would learn by writing 3 scripts by yourself, you would learn by writing a script with a friend. It is because many mistakes we make, we know in a instinctive manner that we are doing it wrong. But the problem is, to openly accept the judgement of such an unconscious ‘shit detector,’ it takes us more time. But with a co-writer who is honest regarding the worthiness of your concepts and process, the duration to enlightenment is cut short.
You will feel guilty if you don’t write
Almost all of us believe that we have some ‘great’ ideas for movies in our mind. But an average idea which you have put down on paper is better than thousand brilliant ideas that you are never going to write. With co-writing, you actually improve your chances of really getting things done. Writers are notorious for their tendency to procrastinate. But if you have a co-writer, it is much more likely that you will keep the ball rolling as otherwise you will be wasting the time of another person.
Learn the team game
What really makes scriptwriting different from other forms of writing is the collaborative process which is the crux of film making. Even if you wrote a screenplay which was wrenched out of the intimate parts of your heart, it is going to undergo scrutiny, invite comments (including many outrageous ones), and you will be working and modifying it relentlessly until the point it becomes a film. It is all about taking feedback with composure, defending what you really believe in, examining your own ideas objectively and being able to articulate the abstract issues in the script. Now if you have a co-writer, you are a step ahead. You have some one to engage and challenge your ideas even at the concept level. There is a lot of back and forth which gives you time to sharpen your axes and be ready. Also it teaches you to accept disagreement, realise that some one out there may be able to contribute a better idea than yours and to work towards a consensus by bringing in a third, even better idea.
Throwing more darts
Every co-writer brings something unique to the table which is not only about plotting or dialogue or characters. Some may be good in networking and some in getting the work done. Also the catchment areas of different people may be different in terms of pitching your finished screenplay. Some may have technical expertise or past experience which may be helpful in getting your script made. The trick is not in writing your screenplay but being in a better position to really make it into a film. With co-writing, you are widening your net.
There are many roads to the same place
Different writers use different processes in writing. Some outline a lot. Some like to plunge into the first scene and let the characters surprise you. Some believe in structural templates while some love to experiment. Some like to know their characters while for some, attributes of a character develop according to the needs of the theme and plot. Some research while some doesn’t. The problem is, for most of us, our process is set within one or two screenplays. There are different methods in writing a screenplay but it is unlikely that a person will experiment much. But if you have a co-writer, it is much more likely that you will be exposed to a different method, which who knows, may be even better than that of yours.
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