I mentioned earlier on the blog that we had all taken on some projects during our break from publishing HBM. For me, this meant working a little on video game writing ideas and a little on nothing at all. Then, Duane, Vincent, and I decided to write a truly collaborative piece. For those who don't know, Issue 3 of Here Be Monsters (called "Where Cities Tread") was made up of three stories that were all set in the same world. We'd designed the concept together, but each story was still written by the author on his own. During the summer though, we started on a story that was actually written by all three of us.
To do this, we used Google Docs. It allowed us to write on the same page at once, comment on eachother's writing, all while chatting from our computers at our separate houses. I'd known about the tool before this, but to see it in action was pretty incredible. During our first session, we were brainstorming all kinds of ideas. Characters, themes, rules about the story, publication plans, everything was pouring out faster than we could have done around a kitchen table (our usual meeting room).
There was even some healthy debate going on about ethics, religion in fiction, all sorts of things. And, keep in mind, this is with 3 passionate writers, so the fact that we were able to keep it to "healthy debate" is a testament to how well we get along and work together.
The plot was slower to come together than some of the other parts, but we had enough to start with. So, each of us began writing from a separate point in the story. I was doing a scene between two characters, going back and forth, when I got stuck. I wrote "I'm stuck" on the screen just so that the guys knew why I'd stopped, and then the amazing thing happened. Vincent picked up right from where I'd left off and continued the scene. He stayed true to everything I'd written so far but brought the story forward in a way I wasn't expecting. And I was totally on-board with it.
For those of you who are writers, or even other artists, you can probably imagine how scary it could be to work together in this way. You see all of eachother's mistakes before they can be corrected, you're required to buy in to other people's ideas and hope they buy into yours -- But this worked. Really really well. We all ended up tagging in and out like this as we formed the first few scenes of the story. It was so exciting.
Sadly, the project did get put on hold, but that's okay. It led us back to Here Be Monsters and a new issue. Also, it proved that we could do it. I don't doubt that we'll pick it up again. Whether it will end up as an HBM publication of some kind, I don't know, but it was too fun to not follow through on.