Writing partnerships are like marriages. They can continue in bliss or end up in bitter divorce.
by Steve Kaire
Working with a writing partner can either reduce your workload by half or create twice the headaches.
Any kind of partnership is fraught with peril. If it fails, not only does the project come to an immediate end, but your friendship may be over as well.
A well chosen partner is a valuable lightning rod to create and bounce ideas off. That person’s strengths can balance your weaknesses. There has to be a meeting of the minds on critical issues before a partnership is undertaken.
Your friendship may be over as well.
There’s a list of questions that have to be answered before both parties make the final commitment to work together:
– Do your writing styles mesh rather than conflict?
– Do you have personalities that work well together under pressure?
– Can you both invest the amount of time required from inception of the script to the ultimate marketing of the material?
– How will major disagreements be resolved when you reach an impasse?
– Will you be doing an equal amount of work and splitting the money equally or will there be some other kind of financial split?
– And if you do go your separate ways at any point, who does the material belong to?
All these questions and potential pitfalls should be discussed and agreed to in a written contract form before any partnership is entered into.
– Steve Kaire
Steve Kaire is a Screenwriter/Pitchman who’s sold 8 projects to the major studios without representation. The last project he sold, he’s Co-Producing for Walden Media. A screenwriter for over 30 years, he holds a Masters in Dramatic Writing and has taught writing classes at the American Film Institute.
Steve was featured on the Tonight Show’s, “Pitching to America” and was voted a Star Speaker at Screenwriters Expo three years in a row. His top rated CD, “High Concept – How to Create, Pitch & Sell to Hollywood” is a best seller. You can find his website here.
Jamie Campbell is an author, screenwriter, and television addict.
Jamie is proud to be an Editor for The Story Department.
Her latest series Project Integrate is out now.
1 thought on “Writing With a Partner”
Steve Kaire makes sensible points here. Though I think, in 90% of cases, a 50/50 split in creative input and credit is a big disaster risk. Better to have a ‘dominant’ writer and an essentially ‘assistant’ one to make sure that the overall vision and coherence of the story remains sound. I don’t say that it is absolutely impossible for a 50/50 partnership to work. But that would require a super-exceptionally well-matched pair (or trio or quartet) of writers to work together … Not impossible, but very unlikely.
I think a less risky and more effective approach would be to have trusted friends or colleagues serving as advisers and sounding boards, rather than as co-writers. This way the end story is more likely to be a coherent, compelling, and unified piece that is not compromised nor fractured by differing agendas or angles of interpretation.