The Rules of the Game

image from open by nicubunu


I am the self-appointed editor of our group round robins.  Anyone who’s read our work knows I am LEAST qualified of the four of us.  ProWritingAid is the great equalizer, or at least I have to tell myself it is.

As the editor I have self-imposed rules.


1. Don’t change the core of other’s sections.  Whatever they wrote is what they intended and I have to work with that, not hack and slash around to change inherent meaning.  Too much change makes it “my story” instead of “our story” which runs contrary to the round robin’s goals.


 2. Seamless flow from one writer to the other is the goal, but I can’t change all the phrasing to be “Jessica” (or anyone else’s) style to achieve this.  It’s not right to erase someone else’s voice on a joint work to showcase another’s.


This worked well in our first round robin.  I used ProWritingAid first to correct grammar, style, to catch and rework repetitive phrasing, and to delete adverbs.  The major change I made was plot continuity driven.  One writer misread another’s part of the story.  Where Anges finds a dead body that writer interpreted it as Anges being the dead body.  I had to change content.  I adjusted three lines.


Fast forward to our second round robin project.  We used Reedsy to find a prompt.  The gist was: “Your grandmother makes pancakes for you every morning.  Your grandmother dies, but there are still pancakes the next morning.


This prompt was a different challenge from the last.   The first story blooms from three words/themes.  Using a specific scenario, encouraged more partnership instead of competition to “take over” the story.  This second round robin was smoother and required a lot less finessing to make it seem like one person had written the work.


If reworking it was simple why isn’t it posted here?


The “problem”: I hate my part of the story.  Not all.  I’m happy with the first three almost four paragraphs, but it goes downhill fast.  My ambitions to churn the most words and be the first to “finish” a round robin in fifteen minutes left me with a rambling sticky mess.  I do not want to publish such a poor expression of my writing.  Everything I think is weakest in my form is on display.


What might be worse, my closing section only drives towards a handful of endings.  I broadcasted the only natural conclusion, and that’s driving me to play with the less obvious choices to thumb my nose at myself (because I hate authority so much I’ll rebel against myself when I become the authority and isn’t that an unattractive personality quirk).


Help!  Do I publish and unfinished story as it stands?  Do I scrap this work as hopeless?  Do I make my changes because if I cut the last two paragraphs I could write three kinds of separate endings on my own?  Are more drastic changes to my section a benefit I gain as the person completing the editing work?  Do I have to keep everything I wrote in the spirit of the exercise and endure the cringe?  Tell me what’s a “professional” writer/editor to do in this situation with my minor conflict of interest.

2 thoughts on “The Rules of the Game”

  1. I don’t think you need to post it publicly to get the benefits from the exercise. I never post my stuff publicly, and I was a little surprised when I entered the blogosphere this year how many authors post free stories or post works in progress. I couldn’t do that. But I admire the writers who do. Personally, I’d like to see what your group came up with, but if the shoe was on my foot, I wouldn’t because I don’t have the balls to do it.

    1. You’re right. The core benefits of the exercise: to improve speed of writing, to force a writer to work in adverse situations, to interact with another writer, and some weeks to force a person to write at all. These are all achieved without ever posting/publishing the finished product.

      As far as posting stories to the blog goes, I think the pros usually out weight the cons. Our writers’ group exercises are great rough expressions of who we are as writers. The round robin also showcases some of what we do at writers group. Lastly, editing them and posting the works shows other writers that all of us are comfortable working together on a project and can creatively compromise and come out with something good. In the era of co-oporative writing, this skill can’t be undervalued.

      On a personal level, having the writers’ group blog allows me to show a “sample” of my writing (does this do anything for me-is my writing even of a caliber I’d want to offer it- I don’t know but I’m going to do something).

      If I were just posting personal stories then I have more mixed feelings. There are some short stories I just want to share. If our blog had enough traffic, I’d post them in a New York minute. I want eyes on my work and ideally, I want people talking about it. Hunting for possible publishers, continuously submitting and getting rejected for nebulous reasons, and waiting waiting waiting waiting. Why would I do any of that if I could skip to the part where people read the story?

      Now is our writers’ blog at a point where posting my short stories makes sense? Probably not. I’d like better views. But I’m not looking for something crazy. 100 people interested in the fantasy genre, ideally a modern set fantasy seems like enough of a test audience to make releasing a few stories worthwhile.

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