Sharing The Quill
Also by parody_ham
Note from Authors: We will use "Co-op" and "Collaborative" interchangeably in this article because they generally mean the same thing.
Such as anything in life, working with another person on a project can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. With that said, trying to divide the work equally is not always as fun. How should one go about a collaborative piece and to what extent should the authors share their work? We will address these and many other questions in our guide. C=Carolyn and G=Geo.
C: Every comic and article ever enjoyed in the Neopian Times started from an idea. How one uses this idea is the fun and creativity of writing. As a friend once said, "take two random things and put them together and you have an idea!" Now, this may not be the best idea such as Dr. Sloth being a part time chef in a restaurant or a giant Meepit overlord destroying Jel-
G: *Covers my mouth* Let's avoid that topic, Carolyn. Besides, everyone knows that Weewoos are better than Meepits. Haven't you read Petpet Biology? It tells you everything about how Weewoos are better than...
C: *taps Geo on the shoulder* Hey, I love Biology as much as the next Neopian, but we're talking about collaborations here.
G: Oh, right. Uh yes, first remember that collaborations are between two people. It's not a bad idea to consult with other friends, but ultimately, the credit can only be split between two people.
C: With that said, you should be careful as to who sees your work before you submit it for publication! Others may see your idea and decide to use it for themselves!
G: Letting the Editor know you are doing a collaborative piece is easy. Simply put in the comments section of the submission page that you are collaborating with -Insert Username Here-. Another way is to note this at the bottom or top of your submission, just as long as it is somewhere the Editor and her Weewoo friends will notice easily.
So let's get started then. The following guidelines may or may not be relevant to all types of submissions; however, we hope that at least some of these tips will be helpful during your submission process.
The most important step is to think of the idea. This can be easy, or it can be a bit of a challenge. Think of something that is bizarre and different, and this will reduce the likelihood that your topic is already covered in the Neopian Times. It is also quite common to take an idea and then put a different spin on it. For example, there is a Neopedia article about Thyora, an Eyrie with magical tears. However, Thyora's name is so similar to Fyora that you could do a story about a relation of Fyora. You can find an example of this in Neopian Times Issue #278 in the story From Thyora to Fyora by black_skull725 (Geo).
Now that you and your partner have an idea, there comes the most important part of the process outlining. This step not only determines the general make-up of the article or comic, but also helps to divide the work between the two writers/ writer and illustrator. For example, I am covering the written part of this guide while Geo is explaining the best way to plan a co-op comic. The scope of my part of the article will cover what I like to call the three C's: Communication, Continuation, and Consideration.
Suggestions for Writing a Co-op Article:
Now although the above says suggestions for writing co-op articles, they are also very useful in short stories and series. The only difference is that stories and series involve more creative work than an article.
When referring to the communication aspect, it is important to neomail your partner not only your ideas, but also how you plan about doing the actual article. Block out sections for each individual to work on. If either person is confused on what they should be writing, there could be overlap! If one writer tells another they want to write an article about why Weewoos (white Weewoos in particular) are the best petpet any Neopian could ever hope to have, if there is no communication, both authors might think to focus on their kind disposition. Alternatively, they could end up writing opposing viewpoints. For example, I can write that Meepits are an alternative to the Weewoo while Geo focused on why a Meepit could never be a good petpet. You could see how a Neopian war could start! (Hypothetically, of course. Not to offend the Meepit overlord of anything of the sort -laughs nervously-).
Another very important communication skill is peer editing. Between drafts, grammar and spelling should be looked over by your partner. Not only this, though; offering ideas for improvement will also be a big help. For example, let's say that in our petpet guide, I write how you can always pick up a Weewoo on Kreludor. Well, since Weewoos aren't living on Neopia's moon (last time I checked anyway) this claim alone might decrease our chances of making it into the times (due to inaccuracies). Geo, being a good peer editor, would likely suggest to change Kreludor to Krawk Island. Besides, I doubt the pirates on Krawk Island would like it if their business were to decline due to any false information written in our guide!
Article continuation, the next in the "three C's" is necessary in order to maintain flow between the two authors. In a sense, though the authors likely have very different styles, it should not appear disconnected. The topic I address should be able to connect well to any topics Geo addresses. For example, I cannot have a paragraph about Weewoo singing ability that jumps to a Weewoo's ability to fly or win in the petpet Battledome. We must be aware of the reader at all times -waves to you- (Hi, reader!) and keep them from feeling confused about what they are reading. A confusing article is neither interesting nor engaging and the editor likely would have no choice but to reject it.
The final "C" is for consideration. No matter how exciting doing a co-op may be, patience is a virtue! Take into consideration that your partner may need some time off or perhaps is very busy with school or work. If anyone needs to put his or her share of work on hold for a few days, then it will be fine. The Neopian Times is always open for submissions. Now of course, if you are the person that needs the time off, be sure to let your partner know in advance just out of courtesy unless it is not possible to do so. In addition, it is good to set deadlines in advance for each other to keep each other accountable and on the same page. That way, you both can adhere to a timeline. The more planning at the beginning means the less improvising later on. This could make the project go smoother.
The three C's are not only useful in the creation of co-op articles, as Geo will discuss next. The major difference between an article co-op and a comic co-op is that a comic involves more visual arts and less writing.
Suggestions for creating a Co-op Comic:
Perhaps there's some point when you have a very humorous idea for a comic but realize that you have no drawing skills whatsoever, or perhaps you are excellent at drawing but lack some sense of humor.
Well, a comic co-op is probably something you should consider. Just because it's a comic co-op does not necessarily mean that both you and your partner have to have the same drawing or humor skills. It is a team effort and both team members can bring different skills to the table. One person could come up with the idea and the script and the other person can do the drawing, all while the both of you are communicating different ideas.
Once you find a partner that is willing to work with you on a comic collaboration, it is important to figure out tasks for each other. Make sure you know who is better with what. If you split up the drawing task and the writing task, be courteous and ask for suggestions from each other. It wouldn't be very considerate if one person simply did the drawing and all the other person did was write a script and send it to the artist. Not to mention you could run into the problem of lack of communication. Do not be afraid to ask each other for suggestions.
Finally, if there is the case that both of you are really good at drawing and writing, then it is still a good idea to split up the those tasks. You may both be good at drawing but have totally different drawing styles, and the same goes for writing. It may look awkward if you stopped drawing a comic and let your partner draw the rest. For example, Carolyn might start drawing the head of a Meepit but then I finish the comic giving the Meepit a Weewoo body. Unfortunately, Meewoos do not exist and therefore the editor would likely reject that comic. Yes, the example is probably very extreme but hopefully the point comes across clearly. Once again, though, both partners can give suggestions to each other. So I could ask Carolyn to make the Meepit head more like a Weewoo or Carolyn could suggest I replace the Weewoo character in my script with a Meepit (which I will never agree to anyway). The main point is the constant communication and consideration will allow the project to continue toward completion.
Moreover, when you and your partner finish a collaboration job, regardless of what it is, make sure you express your utmost gratitude towards your partner. You both worked very hard to put together the submission. Thank each other for the time spent together and the hard efforts, and even if the submission isn't accepted, just be glad that you had the opportunity to work with the other person.
C: But wait! What about if you do get rejected? Is all hope lost? Will our beloved Meepits never see the eyes of a Neopian Times reader?
G: Oh, I forgot. That's an important discussion too, getting rejected. Of course, there are different reasons for the editor to reject your entry. If it's a styling error or major grammatical error, the editor will most definitely point it out in her rejection Neomail.
C: Or if you don't adhere to the rules and guidelines of the Neopian Times.
G: For those errors, simply fix what is wrong. However, sometimes it's not so clear. Sometimes you get a Neomail saying there were too many good entries. If you get one of those, then there are two options, resubmit as is and try again, or try to make your entry outshine others before you resubmit.
C: For the first few times, it's best just to resubmit as is, although it is fine to edit. Perhaps there were just too many good entries that week and each week gives you a new chance to get in.
G: If you do plan to edit or add material into the collaboration, make sure you check with your partner to make sure your edit is okay with them. Sometimes, they can see things that you can't see.
C: For the same reason, it is definitely a good idea to show your story to others too. Maybe you and your partner think everything is great but a third party could find some weaknesses in the article, comic, or story. If our Weewoos don't end up being enjoyed by Times readers, at least our friends and family enjoyed them.
G: The important thing is not to let rejection stop you. Every story has a chance of getting in. Sometimes, there are just too many good ones and you've just got to be patient.
C: One final important tip, if your story, comic, or article is related to any upcoming or current site events, the likelihood of it being accepted is higher during the weeks of those events but it does not guarantee that you will get in.
G: This concludes our discussion about rejection. However, do not let rejection Neomails discourage you. It doesn't mean your story is bad, it just means you can work harder and make the story even better.
C: The readers should be left off on a note that would make them smile. Something that might make them say, "Yeah, I am getting better!" no matter the outcome. And most of all, have fun! If you are rejected, don't let it bring you down! The more you work at your style, the better a writer you become!
Now that we've walked you through the ins and outs of creating a collaborative piece of work, we hope that we've encouraged you to try it out. Once again, as mentioned in the beginning, we also hope that this will be a rewarding experience, to have the opportunity to work with another person to accomplish a beautiful piece of written or visual art. For those who are now encouraged to try, we hope that our guide will help you along the way and we sincerely wish you the best of luck. We look forward to seeing your collaborative works published in the NT.