Screenwriting : Working with Writing Partners by Jason Mirch

Jason Mirch

Working with Writing Partners

How many writers here work with a writing partner? How do you and your partner work together? What is the process like? What are some of the benefits and draw backs? How do you settle creative differences in the writing process?

Bill Costantini

I do. We mesh extremely well together, and that's a big benefit. We do a lot of pre-planning, talking and brainstorming, and have set lists of questions regarding elements of drama and structure. We plan, chart and outline, and agree on the characters' actions/reactions in our stories. When we have differences or multiple options, we talk through it, and eventually agree on what is best for the story, and have never been in a "well, I think you're wrong, but I'll let you have it" kinda situation. We write scenes separately and together, and act out dialogues, too.

The biggest benefit is that she's a female and non-white, and I"m a male who is white. So we combine a lot of actual "knowing" about feelings and experiences to the table that is our story. She has experienced and knows things that I don't know, and vice-versa. So that's a great benefit, and not only saves time and research, but makes for a deeper and more authentic story - at least to us. There really are no drawbacks - except that she lives in L.A. and I don't.. She is historically a novelist/short-story/magazine writer, and I'm historically a screenwriter/business writer/ad writer, and I think that combination of writing skills add to the analytical/creative" synergistic mesh, too.

I also help other writers plan stories, and help them with important story points, dramatic elements, and character qualities, but stop at that. There are a lot of great creatives that I wish I had the time to collaborate with - all interesting, smart and insightful creatives who bring a lot of unique experiences and great story ideas to the table, and who have asked me to co-write stories with them - but I am really busy and happy with my partner, and, the heavens willing, plan to work with her for a long time. She's a really great person, thinker and writer. And more power to those who write alone and don't have partners, too.

Great topic, and best continued fortunes in your creative endeavors, Jason!

Dan Guardino

I've only worked with a professional screenwriter and producers and never had any creative differences. It is not like we're dealing with life a death so I don't take this stuff too seriously.

Joleene DesRosiers

I worked with a partner, but I ended up "breaking up" with him because I seemed to be doing the Lions share. The writing was equal, but he often was late to calls or rescheduled calls. And when it came time to shoot a proof-of-concept, I did 90% of the work to produce it because he was busy with his job and family. (I have those, too.)

Also, I also wasn't in love with the story. And when I asked him why we were the ones to write it, he said, "Because it's a cool story."

I knew then that we should move our separate ways. He's a great guy and there's no animosity, it just took me a while to admit to myself that it wasn't a good match.

Eve K.

I worked with a partner for a few years. We had similar writing styles, and enjoyed the same genres. We worked really well together and learned a lot from each other. Eventually we parted ways as personal projects took us in different directions.

Jody Ellis

My husband and I have written one script together, which has done fairly well on the contest circuit. We’ve talked several times about collaborating again, but we are both pretty buried in current projects so I don’t know when that will happen. With our process, we took turns writing scenes and each did one full round of revisions. Lots of discussion, we had it all mapped out in our heads before we started. The finished product is seamless enough that neither of us can really remember who wrote what scene. We were able to blend our individual voices pretty well.

Jurgen Wolff

I've worked with writing partners at times. I think the most important thing may be to find someone whose skills are complementary to yours (for instance, maybe they are great at plotting, you are great at creating characters and writing dialogue). It's tempting to work with somebody who has exactly the same perspective as you, but then you may not be getting the full value of a collaboration.

Jurgen Wolff

The most useful thing we found in terms of settling differences of opinion is when you spot something you don't like, instead of jumping in with your own version, identify the problem. If you agree there is a problem, it's easier to go forward and find a solution you agree on.

Rob Jones

I've had several after at first not thinking it would be something I'd do. For the ones that really worked, we exchanged feedback, seen several of each other different projects well before even thinking about parntership. And having talked in general and became friends. Also, it's good if they have some sort of different viewpoint and strenghts than yourself. I've personally only done it based on their ideas or scripts/parts of a script they were struggling with and been the more experienced writer. Offering my take and viewpoint and getting a crack at it. But for the actual script writing it's a back and forth, give and take. We'd do outlining talk about where we'd want to go and write scenes on our own, exchange them, talk about what we like and don't and then keep the process going.

Pamela Cederquist

For me, the most important ground rule ended up being "Be Kind." That single mission statement got us through 10 years of working together. The "what ifs" were free to fly, no protecting ourselves. We knew we'd be respected and not torn apart. I'd say that's the most important piece of the puzzle.

Mike W. Rogers

I do not have a writing partner. I have collaborated twice for extended periods of time on feature project (eight weeks and six months). Neither ended with a finished product.

Other topics in Screenwriting:

register for stage 32 Register / Log In