Using freelance writers to experiment with a new storyline, or for worldbuilding

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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Hello all! I am not a professional author, but I have worked diligently to train myself to write at some level of competency. That said, I do enjoy bouncing my ideas off of other authors, and/or even hiring them to write short stories (or something equivalent) when I am exploring new worlds/narratives. For example, I've been hiring authors to write five hundred word stories for an on-going Web Development project for purposes of worldbuilding.

Having access to a diversity of other minds (essentially on demand) during the ideation phase of my projects, has brought me to the next level of quality and productivity with my writing; as well as my JavaScript Development work. I accomplish this primarily through the Fiverr platform, which offers story writers from around the planet, at whatever rate they're willing to work for. I've purchased stories for as little as $5, and as much as $1,000.

With all of this said, I'd enjoy hearing what everyone thinks about this strategy? Is this cheating? Or is this wise and rather innovative?
 

Christine Wheelwright

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So I took a look at Fiverr. Plenty of writers offering their services on there. I suppose the idea is that they write, say, a blog post for someone who can't or doesn't want to do it. And the purchaser then presents it as their own work. Is this why you ask if it is cheating?
 

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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So I took a look at Fiverr. Plenty of writers offering their services on there. I suppose the idea is that they write, say, a blog post for someone who can't or doesn't want to do it. And the purchaser then presents it as their own work. Is this why you ask if it is cheating?
I asked if it was cheating, because while I am not presenting anyone's work as my own, I am outsourcing some of the brainstorming to other people. All of the work that I receive from Fiverr is published here, but nothing is misrepresented as being my original writing. You can find the stories embedded within the grid layout at the link I shared herein.
 

mistri

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If you're not presenting them as your own, then effectively you're a publisher.

Are you collaboratively developing a new world, or are the writers doing their own thing? Do they retain their copyright or sign it over? That's what I'd be worried about more than 'cheating'.

What happens if you commission someone and you don't like the work?
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
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I have done a couple of remote collaborative projects. (in film and music respectively)

What you learn is that everyone has a different vision, far more different than you initially thought.
It takes a considerable amount of time to find people who come close to being 'on your wavelength.'
The best adage I can think of is "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."
I'm not saying you won't get interesting stuff but you probably won't get a unified outcome.
 

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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If you're not presenting them as your own, then effectively you're a publisher.

Are you collaboratively developing a new world, or are the writers doing their own thing? Do they retain their copyright or sign it over? That's what I'd be worried about more than 'cheating'.

What happens if you commission someone and you don't like the work?
When I hire a writer to help me brainstorm, as long as a central theme (specified by me before submitting my payment) is used, I give them complete creative freedom over what they deliver. I do retain the copyright, but there are some stories that I cannot use commercially. Which is completely fine, because I use none of them commercially.

And if an author delivers a piece that I don't "like", I just thank them for their creative help/talent, and move on to authors who I do enjoy working with. It really is a gamble until you find the correct co-writers. That's why I'm totally alright with "failed experiments".
 

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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I have done a couple of remote collaborative projects. (in film and music respectively)

What you learn is that everyone has a different vision, far more different than you initially thought.
It takes a considerable amount of time to find people who come close to being 'on your wavelength.'
The best adage I can think of is "A camel is a horse designed by a committee."
I'm not saying you won't get interesting stuff but you probably won't get a unified outcome.
Quite an astute observation, that I probably won't get a unified outcome; which has been my experience so far. But that's what I'm hoping for, generally speaking. I hired writers to help me explore what the inside of a Cyberpunk corporation might be like. And this diversity of stories, has been the major strength/gain/value I've walked away with after hiring over a dozen authors from around the world for this project.

I appreciate your perspective, and experiences. Thank you for shedding a bit of light on my own similar encounters with brainstorming and worldbuilding.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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Basically, you do you, I feel. There's loads of ghost writers and collaborations in publishing. If it works for you and you are happy, why not. I think the only 'cheating', I feel, would be if you presented the finished work as 100% all your own, if instead you had a proportion in the work that was from other writers. On the other hand, you've paid for the privilege, so really there should be no complaints.

It seems you are an 'extrovert' creative, rather than an 'introvert' one - needing to bounce ideas off others rather than sitting calmly in a room by yourself imagining full worlds. I am partially extrovert with regards to ideas in general, but prefer creative writing to be 'all my own'.

Furthermore from my perspective though you are paying to get rid of some of the most enjoyable parts of writing so I wouldn't follow your model - no desire to be more like an editor! Plus I could never give my best ideas to other writers...well, I suppose there would be a price ;) :)
 

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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Basically, you do you, I feel. There's loads of ghost writers and collaborations in publishing. If it works for you and you are happy, why not. I think the only 'cheating', I feel, would be if you presented the finished work as 100% all your own, if instead you had a proportion in the work that was from other writers. On the other hand, you've paid for the privilege, so really there should be no complaints.

It seems you are an 'extrovert' creative, rather than an 'introvert' one - needing to bounce ideas off others rather than sitting calmly in a room by yourself imagining full worlds. I am partially extrovert with regards to ideas in general, but prefer creative writing to be 'all my own'.

Furthermore from my perspective though you are paying to get rid of some of the most enjoyable parts of writing so I wouldn't follow your model - no desire to be more like an editor! Plus I could never give my best ideas to other writers...well, I suppose there would be a price ;) :)
I am indeed an extroverted creative, as I need external feedback loops to help me contemplate whatever I'm working on. So I'm glad to hear that you (and other commenters in this thread) generally don't see a problem with using freelance/ghost writers to help ideate. That's my style, so I will do me! Thank you for the information. I appreciate your perspective on this.
 

Swank

and debonair
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I am indeed an extroverted creative, as I need external feedback loops to help me contemplate whatever I'm working on. So I'm glad to hear that you (and other commenters in this thread) generally don't see a problem with using freelance/ghost writers to help ideate. That's my style, so I will do me! Thank you for the information. I appreciate your perspective on this.
I'm having a hard time imagining what kind of product this will ultimately produce, but I'm not judging that.
 

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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I'm having a hard time imagining what kind of product this will ultimately produce, but I'm not judging that.
The end product is a website for a fictional company, and the authors I've hired are helping me to see into that universe from their perspective(s).
 

Swank

and debonair
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The end product is a website for a fictional company, and the authors I've hired are helping me to see into that universe from their perspective(s).
What will this website do for you? Who will use it, what will they do with it and how will it fulfill you (artistically or financially) to have them do so?
 

bretbernhoft

Bret Bernhoft
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What will this website do for you? Who will use it, what will they do with it and how will it fulfill you (artistically or financially) to have them do so?
The website is for my professional Web Developer portfolio. It doesn't feed me financially. In fact, this website will end up costing me quite a bit of money to design and engineer. And the only (intended) users of the website are individuals who want to see what I'm capable of building as a JavaScript Developer. It will therefore fulfill me by showing the world that I'm a capable Computer Programmer.
 

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