Just recently my friends and I have decided to make a short film. We have elected to individually write several scenes for this short film, then combine them when complete. Is this advisable, or is there foreseeable problems, such as writing styles, continuity etc? How hard is it to co-write scripts?

–Mark B

I’ve never written with a partner, so my only experience in co-writing comes from the two television shows I’ve created, in which I needed to work with other writers to come up with episodes. In those cases, I was clearly the guy in charge, so the experience was only collaborative up to the point where we disagreed. Then, I always won.

Unless you and your friends are remarkably (dare I say pathologically) sensitive to each other’s talents and feelings, I think you are in for trouble. While filmmaking is ultimately collaborative, with up to hundreds of people working on a movie, the writing process is inherently pretty solitary. You’re not just pushing around words on paper; you’re pushing ideas around in your brain. And the more brains you try to distribute this conceptual process between, the more muddled the ideas become.

I’m not saying your short film is doomed. But I really doubt it’s going to turn out better for this novel approach. I’d recommend you and your friends talk through all of your ideas at length, and then let one person actually write the script. Everyone can offer feedback and suggestions, but the best writer among you should be the keeper of the keyboard.