by Anna Sargeant
I had never had writing partners before this endeavor. In truth, I was a bit nervous. How could three brains tackle one story in five weeks time and manage to produce a script with coherency and substance? I’m not sure how it happened. But I can recount what I lived through.
First of all, we came to the table with no expectations for what the story would be. No one saw the project as their baby. We made every decision together, from world building to characterization, to plot, to structure. And we talked and talked about the story before we ever wrote a word. Before the first line of dialogue was written, we all had to be on the same page. We all had to love it, and we all had to believe in it. After the plot, characters, and themes themselves were agreed upon, if a decision didn’t serve the story, we simply didn’t go with it. Or we had to all agree on alterations. In the end, story was king. Having two other people at the table reminding me of that was essential. When I write alone, I am happy to dethrone Story and sink into its rightful place. This never works out well.
Secondly, we came to the table with small egos. First-person pronouns were left at the door. Everything was about team and inviting everyone to use their particular gifts. There was no need for me to be the big picture person. There were already two of those at the table. There was no need for the other two to be the voice of the editor. I had that covered. Brian and I didn’t have to think way outside the box, as Lindsay was already deep in that realm. When I drafted a text that was too lean, Lindsay built it out. When Brian included something that felt redundant, we removed it. There was no time or reason to take things personally. We had a script to finish and characters to reveal to the world. We had a story to tell.
My biggest take-away from this collaborative writing experience was the joy that comes from relying on other people’s strengths, and bringing your own to the table. I have never been great at “ratcheting up tension,” yet it seemed to be all Brian was thinking about. Whenever I assumed that a scene was in the bag, Lindsay would propose something brilliant that I would never have thought of, and of course we would go with that. I suppose this is the third thing that happened: we all came to the table ready to draw on the experience and expertise of others. We all came to the table knowing we wouldn’t want to do this project on our own, but more than willing to try it together. I have a friend who says, “Everything is better together.” While I’d argue there are times when a single author is preferred, this was not one of those times.