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03/30/2007: Not Actually How Sophie Chose
I love it when I receive a letter with a question I've never addressed before. This one comes from Adam in New York. He writes:
What is your take on writing partners/teams? I'm currently working on a spec with two other people. The writing process is a success so far, but will that become a problem when it's time to shop it to agents/producers, etc?"
Writing as part of a team can be a really smart move. I've worked with many teams, and it can be a great way to maximize your value to an employer. Teams split their salary, but they each provide much more than half the work of a single writer, so a good team can be incredibly useful and sought-after.
The ABC/Disney Writing Fellowship allows submissions from teams, and, interestingly, doesn't even require them to split the stipend.
The main problem that's generally cited in regard to writing as a team is that if the team ever splits up, both members have to start over with entirely new solo-written specs and build their individual reputations from the bottom-up again. But if a team is solid, it can be a great source of stability and confidence, and it can produce really stellar work. (Although not in half the time. Teams can work better than individuals many times, but they don't generally work faster. At least, that's been my observation.)
In fact, the only problem with what you've got going, Adam, is that writing teams are made up of two people, not three. Always. You might think that you would provide even more value as a triumvirate, but it's simply not true. Even if the system could accommodate you, there would be serious concerns: a three-person team would dominate the staff, for example.
So, Adam, I'm afraid what you've got on your hands is a Sophie's Choice. Might I suggest one potato - two potato?
Lunch: chopped salad with warm chicken. Quite good.