Thursday, September 8, 2011

Creative Teams

So I've been watching Project Runway for the first time.

One of the contestants, Anthony Ryan, is a Baton Rouge resident and LSU alumni. Geaux, Tigers! and root, root, root for the home team! He won last week's challenge. Whoot, Anthony Ryan!

I don't know if it's a regular thing for this show, but they've been forcing these designers to work together on teams quite a bit. Each time it's been a disaster for the majority of the teams.

This week, they're doing another team project, and from the previews, it looks like more emotional explosions and fallout are to come.

I'm sure it's great for ratings, but I'm disappointed by this aspect of the show. After each team challenge, the judges ask "who was the weakest link," and basically force the other designers to throw someone under the bus.

First, that's extremely lazy of Heidi & Co. (a.k.a., the judges). But second, it's been my experience that creative people do not create well on teams.

When I was an editor (at LSU), I worked with designers, photographers, etc., very creative people. Most of them were exceptionally good at their jobs. And we all did our parts alone.

We would get together along the way and make sure we were all on the same page, but then we would go and do our own creative part--taking pictures, designing the concept, writing the copy--alone.

The one creative exception I can think of is a musical group. But even with bands who write their own music, these guys/gals have worked together for years, and they usually come from similar life situations or parts of the country. Think Lennon-McCartney, The Rolling Stones, U2, No Doubt, (insert your favorite band)...

In the Project Runway situation, these designers are from all over the country and very disparate backgrounds. Most importantly, they're competing for one shot at winning $100,000 and all that other stuff they get if they win.

I propose it's the same with writers. How many team-written books are there? I've only read one, and it was so terrible, I won't name it.

OK, now I'm remembering the Roeckers. I confess, I haven't had a chance to read their book yet (link), and I've heard it's great! So maybe they're the exception.

But they're so close, I'm not sure they count. I've heard they also speak to each other in Esperanza or whatever language twins teach each other (*wink*). Just kidding, L-L... Everyone go buy The Liars' Society (link) and read it!

Do any of you co-write books? Can this work? How do you do it? Is there a method to this madness? And what's (another) example of a good co-written book?

I'm skeptical. And if Anthony Ryan goes home tonight because of all this foolishness, Heidi & Co. can just forget me watching anymore. (LOL!)

Have a great weekend, reader- and writer-friends! Til Monday~ <3


Laura Pauling said...

That is too bad. But isn't that how all these shows work? I mean the social aspect and having to work together and likeability plays a huge role.

Miranda Hardy said...

I've heard of co-authors banding together to write. Patterson has done it. I'm attempting this very thing with my writing partner. We brainstormed and came up with a great story line. It will take a while to finish, but I'm confident it will be great.

Matthew MacNish said...

There was a pair of writers I really loved as a teen: Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. But I've been convinced their novels wouldn't seem as great if I read them as an adult.

I'll co-write a book with you, if you want. It'll be like my query critiques. You can do all the work, and then I'll slap my name on it.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't imagine co-writing a book. I have trouble getting along with me, myself, and I. So I won't be doing anything but solo writing from here on out.

Unknown said...

I'm not really a fan of co-written books either. Often either the writer has to go in the direction of the others (stifling creativity) or they each go in their own direction and create a mess. I'm with you: artists should do most creative things alone.

vic caswell said...

i LOVE project runway! but i haven't hardly watched it since they moved to lifetime. the show lost something with the move. and now all this foolishness! yuck! it seemed like there used to be three of four group projects a YEAR. ugh!
i don't know about writing with a partner. i know at my second high school i had an assignment like that, teemed up with my two besties there, and discovered that we each had extremely different opinions and voices. it was super frustrating!
there are a few people i'm getting to know that i think i could probably collaborate with- bounce ideas off each other and come up with something greater than just one mind could create... but tastes and visions and voices need to go together.
i've heard will grayson, will grayson does this co-written thing extremely well, but it's still on my tbr list and not on my read one. :)

Kelly Polark said...

I'm cowriting a book right now with Jon Arntson. We have the same general idea for the story; I think we'll have to tweak our voices to help them be consistent though in revisions.
I haven't watched Project Runway, but my daughter has this cool Project Runway kit where she creates and draws clothing designs. It's really cool.

Old Kitty said...

My bestest friend and I at one point had a great dream of writing a book together! It was such fun! We even got to finish the first draft - but then life got in the way but before then oh we had such a creative, memorable, inebriated and emotional time of it! I'm hoping creative collaborations are as fun and cathartic as that!

Sorry, I probably didn't answer your questions! LOL! Off I go!!

Take care

Anita Grace Howard said...

Haha! I love your loyalty to Anthony. ;) I've tried reading a book written by two authors. It was BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. The prose was gorgeous but really started weighing the story down after a while. I couldn't finish it. Plus, I just never believed in the MC's voice as a guy's. Just didn't feel it.

I don't think I could ever co-write a book. A short story, maybe; but a booK? Nope. I'm very protective/possessive of my characters and wouldn't want to mold them to anyone else's ideals.

Angela said...

I don't have a problem with co-written books. Liar Society was really good, but I'd imagine it depends on who you write with whether or not it would work. With the right person, I would totally love to try co-writing.

Laurel Garver said...

I've had similar experiences with magazines--we brainstorm, then each team member does his/her thing independently guided by that agreed-upon vision.

However, I must admit I'm intrigued by the idea of co-writing. I'm so much better at revising than drafting, I wonder what it would be like to work with a super-pantser who would let me mold their mess into something cool. Or would we get each other's hackles up? Dunno, but I am intrigued nonetheless.

Shannon said...

Did you see Matt's post on Facebook about James Patterson's plan to release a collaborative novel?

Personally, I'm not a fan of group work when it comes to writing. My muse is a selfish bitch. :p

Summer Ross said...

When I turned 18 my best friend at the time and I spent over a year co-writing a book. It was amazing to work with her and our energies matched up so well, we were in sync always discussing where we wanted the novel to go, giving each other ideas. We each took opposite chapters, I wrote chapter -(odds) and she wrote evens. It worked out really well, we managed to write over thirty chapters. But then my mother died and my best friend got married and moved away. We are still friends but we have changed so much we couldn't write a book together again.
Its possible, lots of fun, but hard work. I think you have to know you want to write with that person. :) said...

I have heard of successful writing teams. Deberry-Grant is a writing duo that has written six books together over the last ten years. I suppose it works well for them.

I don't think I could do it, I am so particular. But that's not to say I wouldn't try it.

Nice to find your blog as well. New follower. And I use to love Project runway before it went to the Lifetime network.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I think co-authoring can work and can work well. Usually we see it in the form of non-fiction but it happens occasionally in fiction too. I think patience, kindness and good communication skills are needed for such a team, though.

Michelle Fayard said...

You’re right that co-authored books are the exception, and those that are often run under a joint pseudonym. And go, Tigers! My dad was from Louisiana, and we were a purple and gold home, even if I never did figure out the subtleties of football. :)

Lydia Kang said...

I've thought of co-writing a book but ultimately I can't. I need complete control. I'm selfish like that. ;)

Carolyn Abiad said...

I think it all depends on the players. Fashion tends to be high drama, so I can't see how it would work there, but writers can (and do/should) swallow their pride regularly. I can see it working for the write team.

Jessica Bell said...

I've co-written a lot of text books, but each author is given a brief from the project manager, so we all know what to focus on, so I guess that doesn't really count. I've never read any fiction that is co-authored. And I totally agree with you that creative people don't work well in teams. And believe me, it can get difficult in bands too. It's VERY easy to disagree with each other! :o)

LTM said...

@Laura--oh, sure. And the good news is A.R. had immunity Thursday, so it didn't matter! :D

@Stephen--LOL! Well, I'm pretty easy to get along with, but I don't always know where my muse is headed... ;p

@Anita G.--Oh, wow! I didn't know B.C. was a team effort. Hmmm... And yeah! Maybe that's it about the solo-team thing. I do seem to have my own vision for the characters and where the story's headed. I can take criticism and feedback, but I want to solve the problems myself.

Hmmm, again... :D

@Summer--That is a VERY cool experience you had! And I guess we all know Lennon-McCartney even went their separate ways eventually... But it's neat you got to experience that. :o) <3

@Lena--Hi! Welcome, and I'm not familiar w/D-G! Thanks for letting me know, and I'll check out their stuff. I have other friends who are former PR fans. I just tuned in for LSU. Geaux, Tigers! But it's fun... :o) <3

Carol Riggs said...

Wow, I can't imagine a team-written book...a co-written book would be difficult enough. I personally wouldn't like to do it. There ARE some published writers who do it and are successful. For instance fantasy writer Piers Anthony co-writes a number of his books, a few with Mercedes Lackey. The one book I read of his, he had incorporated readers' suggestions for silly puns in his book; he sorta collects them. LOL

I haven't read the Roeckers book yet!

PK HREZO said...

I actually really like the idea of co-writing a book. I think it'd be fun. Not every book I write would need to be co-written, of course. But there's a collective creativity that can be downright smashing when you least expect it.
One of my former CPs, Trisha Leaver, co-wrote a book with Lindsay N. Currie and it's the story that got them six offers of agent rep. Wow, can you imagine?? Anyway, they signed with Ginger Clark and waiting to hear back from publishers. Their story is really interesting, you should check it out from their blogs. They literally took turns writing chapters and it turned out brilliant.
I think with the right writers, this can really work... but it has to be the right story for it too.

LTM said...

@PK--Well, heck! That's pretty impressive for Trisha & Lindsay! I just feel like I'm kind of OCD when it comes to my writing. I'd have to find that exact right person... :D LOL! <3