Collaborating on a Screenplay


Writing with a partner can have its upsides and downsides. The rewards usually outweigh the negative aspects. When you collaborate, you have two (or more) minds working towards the same goal. Making your screenplay the best possible work. You can run ideas off each other, and be able to realize what works, and what might not.

Among the negatives are getting into an argument because you want to keep in something that your partner disagrees with. You have to learn what is important to argue for, and what can really fall by the wayside.

If you focus too much on getting one line in, and not enough about an important plot point, you can lose your momentum. Once you do that, it becomes much more difficult to write together.

 If you come up with something that your partner is critical, don’t take it personally. Unless you are just sniping at each other, and if that is the case, you should not be writing together. Be willing to compromise.

If you can overcome these types of difficulties, you should have no trouble collaborating.

I have been collaborating with my wife for several years. We have a system that works for us. I am the one who sits at the keyboard and does the nuts and bolts writing. I make sure the script is formatted correctly, and write the bulk of the dialog, and camera directions.

My wife is more of an idea person. We will throw ideas for a scene back and forth, and when we hit on a idea that seems to work, I type it into the screenplay. Once we have the entire scene or sequence written, I usually read it back aloud. This method will help us find dialog that is stilted, or wooden. In fact, this is a good suggestion even if you are not collaborating.

We usually work from a story outline, or treatment. When we write that, we create the characters, and invent the story from start to finish. Most of the time we have a pretty good idea what the ending is going to be. The story treatment gives us a roadmap that gets us from point A to point B.

We have started a script with a good beginning, without really knowing what the ending would be. I do not recommend this, as your ending can become contrived, just to finish the script.

Some writers will write the story treatment without input from their partner, and then the partner will write the actual script.

Whatever method you use, collaboration can be a great way to share the work of writing a screenplay.