Zyn's Co-Authoring Tips
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Hey everyone. This is Zyn, wiki admin, captain of the site’s Forum Criticism Team, and co-author of 20+ pages on the site (written together with both new and experienced authors alike).

This page is here to tell you about co-authored pages, and offer some suggestions for all authors on how to go about writing them.

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What is a co-authored page?

A co-authored page is basically anything written by two or more authors working together and putting in similar amounts of time and effort. This includes SCP articles, tales, GoI-format pages, guides, and so on.

This is different from collaboration pages, which are usually open-addition test logs and ongoing works accepting new entries from anyone.

Co-authors get equal credit for the piece (both are listed as authors). Co-authored pieces count towards the minimum 3 successful works required for having an author page.

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Why bother co-authoring?

For both new and experienced authors, co-authoring a work can be a fun process where both authors build off each other’s strengths and cover for the areas the other has trouble with. Working with others can also result in new, unique ideas that each author might not have thought up if working alone.

It can also be pretty helpful to talk about questions or concerns with a co-author while writing. Co-authoring lets authors combine their skills and experience.

There are a lot of successful co-authored works, including SCP-3000 (co-authored by
A Random Day, djkaktus and Joreth), SCP-835 (co-authored by DrClef and Dr Gears), and SCP-2991 (co-authored by Dr Hysteria and Zyn/me). Here’s a quick list of all the co-authored pages on the site: http://www.scp-wiki.net/system:page-tags/tag/co-authored#pages

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I want to try co-authoring something! How do I find a co-author?

Cool. Here are some basic scenarios for how co-authorships happen:

  • Forums and IRC chatrooms (common)
    • Scenario 1: You have an idea or a draft. You’re looking for a co-author, so you mention that in the thread or the chatroom. Then you wait for critique and see if anyone is interested in co-authoring.
      • A good example of how to ask: "Here's my idea/draft. I was hoping to co-author this with someone. Does anyone find this interesting enough to work with me on it? I could use help with [details], but I think I'm good at [other details]."
      • A bad example of how to ask: "Here's my idea/draft, who wants to write it for me? I'll let you co-author it if you do the hard stuff."
    • Scenario 2: Someone else has an idea or a draft they want critique on. You really like the idea or draft, and have some ideas for how to improve it. You ask if you can work together with them to write the article.
    • Scenario 3: You have a thread or draft, which someone responds to a lot. You and that person have a long review conversation and eventually decide to write the article together since you’ve both spent so much time on it already.
  • Mainsite (less common)
    • Scenario 1: You have an idea or a draft, and you notice that someone has written some good stuff on the mainsite that is similar to what you hope to accomplish with your article. You send that author a wikidot message asking them if they would be interested in co-authoring with you.
    • Scenario 2: Someone else has a low-rated article that might be deleted soon. You like the article and think you can improve it, so you contact them and ask if they’re interested in working together.

Above all, remember: if someone says no to your request/offer for co-authorship, respect that decision.

Also, it’s a lot easier to find a co-author if you can show you have something to contribute. Co-authoring should be about having fun working together, not someone trying to get someone else to do their work for them.

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I think I found someone! What should I look for in a co-author?

Good writing is important, but you don’t want a jerk for a co-author, and your co-author doesn’t want you to be a jerk. Here are my thoughts on what’s important:

  • Communication: You and your co-author should be able to talk to each other.
    • When you write together, you should talk during every step of the writing process.
    • Try to coordinate schedules so you have at least some time when you are both online at the same time and working together.
    • Decide ahead of time who will post the finished article to the mainsite.
    • Tip: Use a collab sandbox. More info on that later.
  • Teamwork: You and your co-author should expect to share the workload.
    • It’s not really a co-authorship if one person is doing most of the work. Both authors should feel happy about the time and energy the other is contributing.
    • When you’re making edits, make sure that the other author knows about it and agrees with the changes you’re making.
    • Tip: If you have a disagreement, whether over canon or how to write something, get other people’s opinions rather than arguing.
  • Empathy: You and your co-author should be understanding of each other.
    • Life happens. Sometimes someone has real-life commitments or issues that come up, and they’ll need to take some time away from the project. The other author should respect this if it happens.
    • Tip: Don’t enter a co-authorship if you would be angry or upset if your co-author has to take a break.
    • Tip 2: Decide ahead of time what the other author will do if one of you needs to take a break or leave the project.

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But Zyn, what do I do if I haven’t written anything successful for the mainsite yet?

That’s fine. Plenty co-authors have been first-timers. Here’s a writing plan that I’ve found works pretty well for authors across the board, but especially new writers:

Remember to get feedback during every step of the writing process, in the help forums (Ideas and Brainstorming for concepts, Drafts and Critiques for drafts, Questions Desk for outlines) and/or the IRC chatroom. This means:

  • Conceptualizing: make sure you have an idea that the audience actually wants to read about.
    • Have a brainstorming session with your co-author(s) and decide on things like how you want the audience to feel when they read your article, and how the things you each are interested in writing will be in the concept.
    • Decide what kind of story you want the article to have, or if you don’t want a story.
  • Outlining: when you first start putting together a draft, set up the structure of your article.
    • Figure out the information you want to make sure to include in each section. Decide on the background research you both will need to do.
    • Decide if you want to have any incident reports, experimental logs, interviews, and so on. Decide who will write those.
    • Divide the writing work up, and ask an experienced writer if your outline looks good or needs changing for better narrative flow or pacing.
  • Drafting: ideally, write the article in pieces. And use a collab sandbox.
    • I personally recommend writing the description, then the containment, and then the addenda. Decide who will write each section.
    • Make sure both of you read through the full draft a few times before asking other people to take a look. If a draft contains a lot of obvious errors (spelling is a big one), reviewers may get annoyed with having to read through a sloppy work.
  • Editing: always discuss edits with the other co-author(s) and only change the piece with the other co-author(s)’s knowledge.
    • If you need to, go back to the previous steps and decide if you need more or less material/details.
    • Ask more than one person for feedback, and try to get feedback from experienced site writers.
  • Posting: post to the mainsite if you’ve received feedback of the “yes, I’ll upvote!” variety, ideally from someone who knows the community well.
    • Make sure the author makes an author post that credits the co-author(s). This is important for getting the article tagged correctly, and for staff to update the chatbot/database information.
    • You can also talk a little about the co-authorship process that went into the article.

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What is a collab sandbox?

Normally, sandbox pages are edit-locked so that you can't edit a page you didn't create. Collab sandboxes allow open edits, so co-authors can work on the same page. To make a collab sandbox, you need to have "collab:" at the start of the url, either by making a new sandbox or using the "Rename" feature, under "+Options" at the bottom of the page.

Please put the author’s names in the url. For example: http://scp-sandbox-3.wikidot.com/collab:example-and-example

If you have trouble with this, ask for help in the Questions Desk forum or the #site17 help chatroom.

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I’ve found that using a sandbox to keep your writing conversation in works pretty well. Of course, you can also use a chat program (IRC, Discord) if you save your chatlogs somewhere. I just find it easier to have everything in one place.

Here are two examples of sandboxes I’ve used for old collabs, and some templates for if you want to use similar setups in your own sandbox. Feel free to rearrange the tabs for whatever you want.

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Example of draft outside a tabview version: http://scpsandbox2.wikidot.com/scented-shadow-zyn

Template coding for the draft outside format:

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Example of draft inside a tabview version: http://scpsandbox2.wikidot.com/zyn-lesh-collaboration

Template coding for the draft inside format:

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Any last suggestions?

Sure.

Remember, credit where credit's due! The co-author who posts the page to the mainsite should write an author post that indicates who the other co-author is, as well as thanking any reviewers who looked at the draft and provided feedback. If you used any images, make sure you put the source information in that author post too!

To close, remember that writing for the site should be a hobby, not a chore. If either of you are feeling burned out, take a breather and find something else to enjoy until you feel like writing again. Even if the article doesn't work out, you should feel happy for going through the process, getting to know the strengths of you and your co-author, and turning your ideas into full-length stories.

Happy co-authoring!

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