In an earlier post I talked about the benefits of writing with a partner. Summary: you always have a ride when your car is in the shop.
But you have to find the RIGHT partner. Some tips from someone who’s been in a successful partnership for 39 years:
sure you both have similar sensibilities. If you love Patton Oswalt and
his all-time favorite comedian is Pauley Shore, keep lookin’. (If his
all-time favorite comedian is Pauley Shore keep looking even if your favorite funnyman is Dan Rather.)
have been a number of sibling teams that have worked out. The Charles
Brothers, the Coen Brothers. Make sure you and your sib really get along
and your last name begins with C.
He/she partnerships? If you complement each other then go for it.
Some of Hollywood’s most successful teams are this configuration.
Certainly one of my favorites – Anne Flett Giordano & Chuck Ranberg.
you and your potential partner have similar work habits? If you like to
work in a quiet office during the day and she is only comfortable
writing at the Viper Club after hours, continue your search.
similar aspirations. If your goal is to be a writer and his is just to
use this as a means to move into directing or to get chicks, pass. If he
wants to write Oscar winning movies in five years and you want to punch
up Bette Midler’s Vegas act, shake hands and run.
just how you’re going to work. Head-to-head? Splitting the assignment up
and each taking individual scenes? One person writes the rough draft
and the other rewrites it? There’s a screenwriting team of women who sit
around the pool and get smashed. One mans the computer while the other
floats on a raft. That works for them. I could see it working for me.
What works for you?
The Odd Couple would not make a good writing
team. Felix would want to start the assignment right away and turn it in
early. Oscar would wait until legal action was threatened. Both of you
need to be one or the other.
Now the essential stuff:
You must trust and respect your partner. If you don’t think he’s
the talented one of the two you haven’t found the right person. And
that’s not saying you always have to defer to your partner. I don’t know
a single writing team that doesn’t argue. But here’s the key:
Don’t make it personal.
Let me repeat in all-caps:
DON'T MAKE IT PERSONAL.
of TV wrestlers. They kill each other on camera and after the show all
go out for beers. Argue over script issues but don’t let the
disagreement bleed into personal feelings. And along those lines…
passive-aggressive bullshit, no mind games, no guilt trips. My partner
and I have a policy. First off, we both have to agree before a line goes
in. Secondly, if we can’t agree, and one can’t quickly convince the
other, we just throw the line out and come up with something else. Trust
me, it takes less time to craft a new joke than spend all afternoon
arguing and ultimately one person ends up unhappy.
I know this
sound like a lot of rules but the rewards if you find the right person
can be enormous. And don’t kid yourself. Your car will need servicing sometime.