We’re sending you to a blog post today that’s a must read. Maybe you haven’t co-written a screenplay yet—or you have and never want to again—but being a writer that can collaborate is a HUGE skill. It’s a VITAL skill for a working screenwriter.

Even if you never have a writing partner where you share an “&” (meaning you wrote the screenplay together), instead of an “and” (which means other writers were involved before or after you), knowing how to incorporate notes from your producing team, distributors, director, star actors and even a studio, starts with knowing how to collaborate. The best way to practice this skill is co-writing a script.

7 Things You Need to Know About Co-Writing a Screenplay by Geoffrey D. Calhoun

I’m happy to say I’ve co-written several scripts. However, my first attempt was a complete failure. (It even destroyed a friendship.) Luckily, I learned a lot and all my other partnerships have been wonderful. (And I’ve built great friendships because of the collaboration.) Which leads me to offer up a few personal tips to Geoffrey Calhoun’s comprehensive list. Here they are:

  • Team up for a short film script, first. It’s short, so if the partnership is rocky you won’t have to hang in there forever.
  • One writer usually has to take the lead, decide who that is upfront. I’ve found that whoever came up with the script’s concept is best to take the lead. Basically, they have the deciding vote.
  • Don’t over compromise. If you are both compromising on every story point, you’ll end up with a weak script.
  • Collaborate with someone that’s developed their screenwriting skills as much (or more) than you. (In my situation, where the friendship suffered, my writing partner had no screenwriting experience, but we were talking our way through the script. Many successful teams have worked with an idea person and a writer. Unfortunately, that setup caused a lot of friction. My writing partner didn’t feel like part of the process, since she wasn’t the one translating our discussions into script pages. Sometimes, egos get in the way when you least expect it. That happens less when both writers know how to write a script.)
  • As an addendum to the above tip, don’t co-write a script until you know your craft inside and out. (My part in the co-writing disaster was that I was a newbie. I’d studied screenwriting, but I didn’t know structure inside and out. I didn’t know how to fix all the story problems we were creating by over compromising. I didn’t even know what made a good script great. After the bad partnership ended, I made it my job to take my screenwriting skills to a professional level. Then I went out and tested myself with new writing partners. I’m happy to say I passed the test.)

Now, go out and write something with somebody!

Image courtesy of Pixabay and creator Free-Photos, thank you!