Monday, 9 March 2020

Co-Writing & Creating: Becoming A Dream Team with Your Writing Partner

Co-writing a script with someone may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however, in some cases, magic happens, and it becomes a whole tea kettle. Who are we? Kevin Wilde and Lena Murisier, you probably know us from our absolutely brilliant articles for Into The Script, but what you may not know is that we co-write scripts too (let us say it first: awwww).

This article is what we needed before we started working together. This would have saved a lot of “lost in the sauce” moments. So, if you are giving some thought to teaming up with a co-writer at some point, this article is for you.

Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee that you will end up being as awesome as we are.

We cannot stress this first point enough: make sure you both have the same screenwriting software. That may sound obvious, but on our first screenplay we wrote together, we in fact did not have the same software, and it created a few nightmare scenarios. Kevin was still rolling on some old school (probably from the 60s) writing software and Lena can now add on her resume “fixing scripts and fastest copy/paste person in town”, so I guess; Thank you Kevin? 

Believe us, life is so much easier now that we use the same software. Also, it’ll keep everyone saint and will save your friendship. Bringing us to the next essential point…

Friendship and communication are absolutely key. 

You do not want to team up with someone you are not fully comfortable talking to. Sharing your ideas and your writing, especially in the early stages, can certainly put you in a vulnerable spot. You want to work with someone that you don’t mind sounding like an idiot in front of, and that won’t judge you when you do. 

We talk every day, whether through text, phone, or Skype, most of the time it’s work-related as we’re always bringing in ideas for our projects, but we also send each other memes and share deep (always smart because we can’t help it) thoughts. 

There must be a bond that goes beyond screenwriting. Having the same goals and work ethic is imperative as well.

So, once you have found your person, it’s time to get to work on that script!

Of course, everyone starts the process with an idea. When you are writing with a partner, this process is not only streamlined, but becomes such a unique creative process that opens up the door for so many more ideas to come to fruition. It is unbelievable how one of us can come up with a general idea, and within an hour or two talking via Skype, and bouncing ideas off each other and elaborating on them, what we come up with. 

Next we come up with our main characters together, their names, personalities, backstories, etc., as well as some key moments or events that we feel are imperative to the story and the character’s development. 

Then we start working those key moments into scenes, and sorting out the scenes into acts, much like you might do if you were writing by yourself.

Now for the real fun to begin! 

 Again, this is not the only way to do it, but this method has worked really well for us. Someone (we’ll say Lena in this scenario, cause’ Kevin’s a gentleman and will let her start – you don’t want to know how much he paid to put that line in here) will write the first 10-15 pages. 

The other one (Kevin) will then read it, make notes of what he thinks works and what he thinks could be changed, then we get together on a Skype call and discuss it.

Then it’s Kevin’s turn to write, but while he’s writing the next 10-15 pages, Lena will go back and make any necessary adjustments to her pages. We repeat this process until the first draft is complete. What is really great about this method, is it’s basically as if we have a 2nd draft already completed when we are finished. 

And it’s a super-fast way to write.

Once we are done with the first draft, we reverse it and Kevin will do a re-write/edit on Lena’s original parts and Lena will do the same with his. And of course, we read each other’s work and discuss it as we go. 

This way, both of our voices (which happen to be very similar – although Lena will say hers is more organic – now bet you want to know how much she paid to put that in there) are intertwined throughout the entirety of the script. 

It is helpful if one of the co-writer (hullo crazy Kevin) is one of those “grammar freaks.” He takes one final pass over the entire script to look for grammar or formatting errors (the only time it’s allowed to ghost your co-writer because grammar freaks are freaks) before each of us then give it a final read from beginning to end and discuss any holes in the story or anything we want to change. 

 Then of course we have a few trusted people read it and get their feedback and decide if we want to make any changes. 

Then it’s on to next script!

If that wasn’t the most helpful thing you read today, we don’t know what you’re reading, Einstein. Joke aside, there is no manuscript for how to co-write! 

Different things work for different people. This is simply the way we roll and so far we’ve been rolling good. 

If you have never written with a partner before, we would recommend giving it a shot! Worst case scenario, you can ditch them pretending you “wanna be an accountant again, writing’s just too hard”.

Happy co-writing, folks!

Kevin  Wilde is a Feature Writer at Into The Script and a Screenwriter who has a passion for everything horror. 

Though he does currently have projects in the works in a wide range of genres. His horror short, Out of Body, was the winner of the Ink2screen screenwriting competition. 

It is safe to say you can expect big things in the near future from Kevin, many of which will have you sleeping with the lights on.

You can find Kevin on Instagram and Facebook.

Lena Murisier speaks and writes in four languages. She’s originally from Switzerland and graduated the New York Film Academy of Los Angeles in September 2019. 

She’s been crewing (DP, PA, 1st AD) on many short films and has directed several times. Don’t be surprised if you turn on the TV and see her play extras once or twice (like in the upcoming independent TV show Everyone is Doing Great).

What she loves most is writing. Features and TV.

Currently, she’s pitching a Female Driven police drama pilot she wrote during her time in film school. Hit her up on Instagram: @lenamurisier (tip: send her a meme, she’ll answer immediately).

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