Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#1
It's just a fact of human nature that group projects have a higher chance of falling on their faces than solo projects.  Creative group projects are also less likely to start than solo creative projects because the chance of any two people agreeing on what they want to create is quite low.  And then there's the fact that anyone who is successful at writing solo has little reason to want to try co-writing, so most potential co-writers probably struggle with some inability or flaw as writers.

So here's the actual debate: If given a pool of 30 writers who each have some kind of writing-related problem, how would you matchmake, manage, or persuade them to successfully produce a at least one story you consider worth reading?  You do not have to use all 30 writers.  If you think the task is impossible, explain why.  Minimum passing score for this challenge is one story that runs at least 40 chapters.  You get bonus points for making more than one co-writing project work, but you only have X hours per week and Y resources to bribe the writers with, so you have to divide those among your pairs or trios of writers.

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#5

DarkD Wrote: I'd make one the primary, and the others only suggest and edit.  Maybe if they're really capable of one thing like slice of life character interactions, give them those sections.  Helping to organize and plan would also be helpful.
Okay, but which one?  You've got 30 candidates who are all flawed but in a variety of ways.  How do you choose which one to make primary?  Would limiting the number of secondaries be helpful to reduce arguments, and is there any way you could test them to figure out which were most compatible with the primary?

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#6
so you want 30 writers to make a singular story as I understand it.

I assume these writers have experience working on one book at least, because if not they would be aspiring writers. 

I also assume they have written the story themselves without an editor for the majority of them.

the first order of business is finding a project they all want to work on, I would take their ideas and have them write several down, then give each of them 4 votes for whichever 4 ideas they would like to pursue in writing. Of course the one with the most votes in the end is going to be what the story is about.

now obviously 30 people can't all write one story, there just isn't enough room in the creative process to do so. so I would split them into teams, and I would do so based on their preference. One team would write the universe the story takes place in into existence, they would also make the civilizations, towns, countries, kings, powerful figures, basically they orchestrate how the world will work. Another team would write the MC's that interact with the world and eventually each other, there would probably be 3 of them that are written and that interact with the world, this team would also decide how the plot should go and they will consult with the worldbuilding team to make sure it goes in that direction. Finally I would have a team be the middle man, they would communicate the changes the MCs enact to the world and give them to the worldbuilding team to incorporate into their plans, and they would tell the middleman how that will affect the MCs, the middlemen will write characters which will interact with the MCs such as faction leaders or they will use the kings or rulers the worldbuilders have written for this purpose.

all in all, it will be a mess, but maybe it will work

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#7
sunandshadow Wrote: It's just a fact of human nature that group projects have a higher chance of falling on their faces than solo projects.  Creative group projects are also less likely to start than solo creative projects because the chance of any two people agreeing on what they want to create is quite low.  And then there's the fact that anyone who is successful at writing solo has little reason to want to try co-writing, so most potential co-writers probably struggle with some inability or flaw as writers.

So here's the actual debate: If given a pool of 30 writers who each have some kind of writing-related problem, how would you matchmake, manage, or persuade them to successfully produce a story you consider worth reading?  If you think the task is impossible, explain why.  Minimum passing score for this challenge is one story that runs at least 40 chapters.  You get bonus points for making more than one co-writing project work, but you only have X hours per week and Y resources to bribe the writers with, so you have to divide those among your pairs or trios of writers.
Possible. My opinion:

Given the 30 writers, pick an existing universe that they *all* want to play in. No major modifications to the universe, laws of reality, or certain existing factions/characters without agreement of affected authors (ergo default is NO, make a Supreme Court worthy argument as to why it needs to be changed).

That said, there is an existing method to make it work. Roleplay.

Given the universe and the laws of reality, you'll need to split the authors up. Thirty is too large for a coherent game without massive amounts of patience on all parties. You can have said groups, six of five become parties, competing factions, parallel actors, whathaveyou, or let the battle royale commence. Why five? Because of the ancient rule of four- five, because if one of your homies had some bad takeout tacos/uberfight with the spouse/too drunk to play, you're still ready to rock with the four you've got. Five is a solid number for rpgs, and it works.

Decide beforehand who is playing what faction. Keep groups in the dark as to what the others are doing unless they are in-game present. Rule of snitches applies, and all parties are agreed that Bad Things Will Happen to those caught mid-cheat.

Lay out The Goal that covers all, i.e. the Uberplot, The Plan, the One Plot To Rule Them All. Have sub-objectives specific to each faction. Plan for consequences when a faction fails their objective. Make it interesting. Also, plan to have someone/thing Be Evil, because Evil Always Finds A Way.

Thus one faction can be the DM group. Five people, five parties left. Can therefore run concurrent games to save time. DM group coordinates on the Uberplot. Factions can be as backstabby and tricksy as they like, as long as it is within the laws of reality. The DM group is going to have to be your hardest working, most devious, intelligent, and charismatic players to keep the game rolling.

The writing is that complex interrelated whole built of many voices with each writer building a PoV into the whole. Condensing those disparate PoVs into a single twisting thread devolves to the DM group. As the story comes to a climax, you are going to either have one ginormous Martian cluster-cluck or one heck of a bang for the ending.

That many different voices is going to be one hideous challenge, though. And with thirty people, no one is going to get a whole lot of PoV time. This can result in a great big hairy mess of a plot, and not a good book.

It *can* happen. If you've seen HFY fiction spontaneously generated in comment threads into a surprisingly coherent story, then you know it can. Or if you've played any massive D&D campaigns with a large number of people, for example. It is much more common and doable to do two authors per book in a shared universe. In an anthology, much more doable. The authors are going to be spitting out short stories, though, not book length submissions.

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#8

Nautilus Wrote: so you want 30 writers to make a singular story as I understand it.

I assume these writers have experience working on one book at least, because if not they would be aspiring writers. 

I also assume they have written the story themselves without an editor for the majority of them.

the first order of business is finding a project they all want to work on, I would take their ideas and have them write several down, then give each of them 4 votes for whichever 4 ideas they would like to pursue in writing. Of course the one with the most votes in the end is going to be what the story is about.

now obviously 30 people can't all write one story, there just isn't enough room in the creative process to do so. so I would split them into teams, and I would do so based on their preference. One team would write the universe the story takes place in into existence, they would also make the civilizations, towns, countries, kings, powerful figures, basically they orchestrate how the world will work. Another team would write the MC's that interact with the world and eventually each other, there would probably be 3 of them that are written and that interact with the world, this team would also decide how the plot should go and they will consult with the worldbuilding team to make sure it goes in that direction. Finally I would have a team be the middle man, they would communicate the changes the MCs enact to the world and give them to the worldbuilding team to incorporate into their plans, and they would tell the middleman how that will affect the MCs, the middlemen will write characters which will interact with the MCs such as faction leaders or they will use the kings or rulers the worldbuilders have written for this purpose.

all in all, it will be a mess, but maybe it will work
The 30 people can make as many stories as you want, actually.  You could match them all into 2-somes and then see which of the 15 pairs managed to even agree on a concept, and break-up and re-match the ones who didn't, if you want.  But if you want to personally help a lot (you can't do the writing but you can be a manager, a cheerleader, a mediator, etc.) then you probably only have enough time and energy to do that for 1-3 stories/groups.  Asking for story ideas and then voting on them with multi votes seems like a fine start either way.  I think the first challenge for you would be writing the instructions for how to write up a story idea.  Last time I asked for ideas like that, some were 1 sentence and some were 2 pages.  Also some could be combined with each other, and the combo idea might be better than both.

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#9

Dan Wrote:
sunandshadow Wrote: It's just a fact of human nature that group projects have a higher chance of falling on their faces than solo projects.  Creative group projects are also less likely to start than solo creative projects because the chance of any two people agreeing on what they want to create is quite low.  And then there's the fact that anyone who is successful at writing solo has little reason to want to try co-writing, so most potential co-writers probably struggle with some inability or flaw as writers.

So here's the actual debate: If given a pool of 30 writers who each have some kind of writing-related problem, how would you matchmake, manage, or persuade them to successfully produce a story you consider worth reading?  If you think the task is impossible, explain why.  Minimum passing score for this challenge is one story that runs at least 40 chapters.  You get bonus points for making more than one co-writing project work, but you only have X hours per week and Y resources to bribe the writers with, so you have to divide those among your pairs or trios of writers.
Possible.  My opinion:

Given the 30 writers, pick an existing universe that they *all* want to play in.  No major modifications to the universe, laws of reality, or certain existing factions/characters without agreement of affected authors (ergo default is NO, make a Supreme Court worthy argument as to why it needs to be changed). 

That said, there is an existing method to make it work.  Roleplay.

Given the universe and the laws of reality, you'll need to split the authors up.  Thirty is too large for a coherent game without massive amounts of patience on all parties.  You can have said groups, six of five become parties, competing factions, parallel actors, whathaveyou, or let the battle royale commence.  Why five?  Because of the ancient rule of four- five, because if one of your homies had some bad takeout tacos/uberfight with the spouse/too drunk to play, you're still ready to rock with the four you've got.  Five is a solid number for rpgs, and it works.

Decide beforehand who is playing what faction.  Keep groups in the dark as to what the others are doing unless they are in-game present.  Rule of snitches applies, and all parties are agreed that Bad Things Will Happen to those caught mid-cheat. 

Lay out The Goal that covers all, i.e. the Uberplot, The Plan, the One Plot To Rule Them All.  Have sub-objectives specific to each faction.  Plan for consequences when a faction fails their objective.  Make it interesting.  Also, plan to have someone/thing Be Evil, because Evil Always Finds A Way. 

Thus one faction can be the DM group.  Five people, five parties left.  Can therefore run concurrent games to save time.  DM group coordinates on the Uberplot.  Factions can be as backstabby and tricksy as they like, as long as it is within the laws of reality.  The DM group is going to have to be your hardest working, most devious, intelligent, and charismatic players to keep the game rolling. 

The writing is that complex interrelated whole built of many voices with each writer building a PoV into the whole.  Condensing those disparate PoVs into a single twisting thread devolves to the DM group.  As the story comes to a climax, you are going to either have one ginormous Martian cluster-cluck or one heck of a bang for the ending. 

That many different voices is going to be one hideous challenge, though.  And with thirty people, no one is going to get a whole lot of PoV time.  This can result in a great big hairy mess of a plot, and not a good book.

It *can* happen.  If you've seen HFY fiction spontaneously generated in comment threads into a surprisingly coherent story, then you know it can.  Or if you've played any massive D&D campaigns with a large number of people, for example.  It is much more common and doable to do two authors per book in a shared universe.  In an anthology, much more doable.  The authors are going to be spitting out short stories, though, not book length submissions.
I was apparently unclear in the OP - you do not have to use all 30 writers on one story, you don't have to use all of them at all if you want to use some test to weed out the less useful ones (I'm not actually sure what would make them more or less useful, but maybe some respondents to the thread will have thoughts about that.)  That said, making roleplaying groups in an existing universe does seem like an approach that might get somewhere.  What existing universe would you pick?  Or would you have a vote about it?

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#10
Hm, I’d probably have it be a story similar to First Contact, with a lot of vantage points. That story is basically an exploration  of a setting, through multiple characters that don’t necessarily have anything to do with each other aside from existing in the same universe. 

I’d make sure there were some people responsible for worldbuilding and larger events, and they’d be responsible for double-chhecking everything and make sure it all stays a coherent universe without too many plot points. Then I’d just unleash the players and let them do their thing, maybe give them themes to work with or parts of the universe I’d like them to forcus on and explore. But I don’t think I’d like to micro-manage 30 people into writing a single coherent story unless they’re all experienced story-writers, 30 people is a bit too much. 

If I really wanted to be evil about it, I could set a rule that the character they’re writing about can only stay alive for five chapters maximum and then they HAVE to switch viewpoint. >:) Something like an epic war story told from the perspective of dozens of doomed fighters experiencing the same conflict? Could work. Perhaps the readers could get to vote on their favorites, who’d get a small handful of extra chapters every time they’re voted into the survivor role..? 

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#11
sunandshadow Wrote: I was apparently unclear in the OP - you do not have to use all 30 writers on one story, you don't have to use all of them at all if you want to use some test to weed out the less useful ones (I'm not actually sure what would make them more or less useful, but maybe some respondents to the thread will have thoughts about that.)  That said, making roleplaying groups in an existing universe does seem like an approach that might get somewhere.  What existing universe would you pick?  Or would you have a vote about it?


My apologies, I did not catch that. What you are asking is similar to something I have actually done once, back in my college days. First pass was a simple writing test. Read through some truly awful stuff with a few rare gems amidst the dross, some okay with a little work, and others could be made workable with a rewrite. If you want to create a single story with a minimum of two writers working on the project, I would probably do the same sort of thing.

Co-writing would be voluntary, either one can downcheck the joint project. For preference, I'd pair one of the already solid writers with a promising newbie. Universe picked by the senior, work from there. Possible avenues of exploitation could be split PoV, shared universe, single PoV back-and-forth collaboration with a single thread to follow. Antagonists interruptus where the two PoV hate each other but have to work together for some overarching goal. Has to be workable to both parties.

More than two is going to be difficult, but it can happen if the parties involve all agree and can work together. No, I'm not making a sexual reference, but feel free to think so if you like.

If you don't have to have a shared universe, what you have is basically a publishing house and discrete author/story combinations, so that doesn't need much explanation.

If you go the roleplaying route, personally I'd pick one with a fully fleshed out setting and background with clearly defined rules. If you know the history behind how the Dragonlance saga came about, you know that the Hickmans had a roleplaying group that they based the story on, then Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman wrote the story together from that. I've ran a few games in the Pathfinder universe, and I can definitively say that I didn't have full control of the story. Players did crazy, insane, unthinkable things. Their input changed things constantly, occasionally big things. That was part of the fun.

I wouldn't have a vote on what to write, as too much democratization turns into something too much like meetings. Everyone hates meetings, I believe. Pick and stick, once the decision is made, the people who are interested will come to you.

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#12
I think a group of 30 is too large to work together to write a coherent story. The only way it could possibly work is if you had two or three people who dictated what needed to be done and everyone else just went along with them. I don't think this is likely. Authors have their own ideas about what to write and how they write it. Those whose ideas aren't accepted would become unmotivated and potentially hostile to the project. That's just human nature. You'd have a greater possibility of success with a smaller group, probably no more than 5 people.

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#14
Well if 
sunandshadow Wrote: The 30 people can make as many stories as you want, actually.  You could match them all into 2-somes and then see which of the 15 pairs managed to even agree on a concept, and break-up and re-match the ones who didn't, if you want.  But if you want to personally help a lot (you can't do the writing but you can be a manager, a cheerleader, a mediator, etc.) then you probably only have enough time and energy to do that for 1-3 stories/groups.  Asking for story ideas and then voting on them with multi votes seems like a fine start either way.  I think the first challenge for you would be writing the instructions for how to write up a story idea.  Last time I asked for ideas like that, some were 1 sentence and some were 2 pages.  Also some could be combined with each other, and the combo idea might be better than both.

well if they don't all have to cohesively write a single story and they can pair up however they want then of course they could write a story, it's not like pairs of authors haven't made a story before.

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#15
Interesting idea! Too many people, hard to use them efficiently. So I guess I'd play the numbers game? Split them into 5-6 teams, completely seperate stories, and in the end the best story will hopefully be good enough. Make it a competition, let there be a prize, for motivation.

I would select the team heads like this: give each writer a day to write anything. Then they all read each other's prose, and anonymously vote. Each person gets 2 or 3 votes? Top 6 best voted "writers" become the heads of their teams.

Then, you let them pick out their teams somehow. This could be arranged in a large dinner-party, or any kind of get-together. Talk a bit, discuss ideas, get to know each other, have some short brainstorming sessions, etc. So each team head can pick likeminded people, who vibe well together, and would fit in. You probably don't want sci-fi worldbuilders in your 17th century romance story, for example. You also may not want to be in the same team as somebody rude, arrogant, or annoying. 

Next step would be to actually write the stories. Each team will agree on the general idea, theme and vibe, come up with some interesting characters in interesting scenarios, try to brainstorm a rough outline of a plot, etc. They can divide the labour however they wish internally. If it's a fantasy, probably one person will be in charge of the worldbuilding, sketching maps, coming up with the cultures, races and traditions, lore, etc. Of course, the rest will pitch in with their own cool ideas, pieces of advice, etc. Someone else would do the actual writing of the outlined chapters (maybe the team head, but maybe someone else).

Writing 1-2k words a day on a fresh story like this doesn't sound like much to me. And then, two or three people would be doing the editing, both line-editing and copy-editing, to let the writer focus on the first draft. Another person could mostly work on outlining the story in even more detail. If you know in advance exactly what you want to achieve in a certain chapter, putting it to words will be much easier. 

These division would be different for each team: maybe some teams would decide on a multi-POV story, with 3 main characters, and alternate chapters between them. 3 different people could write 3 different POVs, to give them trully unique voices. However, I wouldn't recommend this. The style changes could be too jarring.

All in all, in a month or two you could have up to 6 finished 50k stories, which differ vastly from each other. It's likely that a few teams would quit halfway through and disband, or that some individuals would got bored/frustrated and leave. But the best work would be pretty good, I think!  

This approach is better than dividing them in 30 different single-person-teams, and just telling them "Write a 50k novel". Most people wouldn't manage to finish. And the best story that would, would probably benefit from having 2-3 editors, and some advice on plotting, characterization, pacing, worldbuilding, and the kind encouragement that the support teams would provide, in my proposal. However, I don't know what the perfect team-size would be. Maybe it's more optimal to have 10 teams of three people...? But I doubt it. 

Also, the team sizes don't have to be fixed. Direct writer transfers could be arranged, or swaps between teams, to help people better find their place.

And maybe having short weekly meetings, with every writer present, could be useful too. Different teams can discuss their progress, give each others tips, provide motivation and moral support, etc. 

The biggest caveat of this entire approach is, in my opinion, that some writers would end up "unpicked". Nobody would enthusiastically want them, so they'd end up in some random team with a story they may not like, or with a duty they may not be happy with. But it's up to them to negotiate their position and prevent this I guess. 

Another appraoch could be to pick the 6 team heads by ballot at random, but I believe this would result in worse stories, than sorting by vote of writing ability. I expect most team heads will take the responsobility of actually writing the damn thing, so it makes sense to have them be the "best" writers. 

Does this strategy sound interesting? Do you think it could work? Any ways to improve it further?

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#17

sunandshadow Wrote: If given a pool of 30 writers who each have some kind of writing-related problem, how would you matchmake, manage, or persuade them to successfully produce a at least one story you consider worth reading?  You do not have to use all 30 writers.  If you think the task is impossible, explain why.
I'd make one write the story and the rest of them edit it. 


The reason is that I once tried to do a cowritten project and it was awful. Not just because we were both inexperienced, but also because we had very different writing styles, which made the story incredible annoying to read. I have seen similar issues later in books co-written by actual professionals, so it wasn't just a problem my middle-school friends and I couldn't get over. If you have two authors writing sections alternating, it will show and it will be disgusting to read, unless they somehow manage to match the style of the other. 

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#18

Nautilus Wrote: Well if 
sunandshadow Wrote: The 30 people can make as many stories as you want, actually.  You could match them all into 2-somes and then see which of the 15 pairs managed to even agree on a concept, and break-up and re-match the ones who didn't, if you want.  But if you want to personally help a lot (you can't do the writing but you can be a manager, a cheerleader, a mediator, etc.) then you probably only have enough time and energy to do that for 1-3 stories/groups.  Asking for story ideas and then voting on them with multi votes seems like a fine start either way.  I think the first challenge for you would be writing the instructions for how to write up a story idea.  Last time I asked for ideas like that, some were 1 sentence and some were 2 pages.  Also some could be combined with each other, and the combo idea might be better than both.

well if they don't all have to cohesively write a single story and they can pair up however they want then of course they could write a story, it's not like pairs of authors haven't made a story before.
If you don't matchmake them in some way, I estimate that you will only get about 4 volunteer pairs rather than 15.  Many people are not good at finding a partner.  Then, if you don't help the pairs in any way, odds are all 4 pairs will fall apart.    Remember, you get a reward per story produced. ;)  Will you help them somehow?

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#19

Ararara Wrote: Interesting idea! Too many people, hard to use them efficiently. So I guess I'd play the numbers game? Split them into 5-6 teams, completely seperate stories, and in the end the best story will hopefully be good enough. Make it a competition, let there be a prize, for motivation.

I would select the team heads like this: give each writer a day to write anything. Then they all read each other's prose, and anonymously vote. Each person gets 2 or 3 votes? Top 6 best voted "writers" become the heads of their teams.

Then, you let them pick out their teams somehow. This could be arranged in a large dinner-party, or any kind of get-together. Talk a bit, discuss ideas, get to know each other, have some short brainstorming sessions, etc. So each team head can pick likeminded people, who vibe well together, and would fit in. You probably don't want sci-fi worldbuilders in your 17th century romance story, for example. You also may not want to be in the same team as somebody rude, arrogant, or annoying. 

Next step would be to actually write the stories. Each team will agree on the general idea, theme and vibe, come up with some interesting characters in interesting scenarios, try to brainstorm a rough outline of a plot, etc. They can divide the labour however they wish internally. If it's a fantasy, probably one person will be in charge of the worldbuilding, sketching maps, coming up with the cultures, races and traditions, lore, etc. Of course, the rest will pitch in with their own cool ideas, pieces of advice, etc. Someone else would do the actual writing of the outlined chapters (maybe the team head, but maybe someone else).

Writing 1-2k words a day on a fresh story like this doesn't sound like much to me. And then, two or three people would be doing the editing, both line-editing and copy-editing, to let the writer focus on the first draft. Another person could mostly work on outlining the story in even more detail. If you know in advance exactly what you want to achieve in a certain chapter, putting it to words will be much easier. 

These division would be different for each team: maybe some teams would decide on a multi-POV story, with 3 main characters, and alternate chapters between them. 3 different people could write 3 different POVs, to give them truly unique voices. However, I wouldn't recommend this. The style changes could be too jarring.

All in all, in a month or two you could have up to 6 finished 50k stories, which differ vastly from each other. It's likely that a few teams would quit halfway through and disband, or that some individuals would got bored/frustrated and leave. But the best work would be pretty good, I think!  

This approach is better than dividing them in 30 different single-person-teams, and just telling them "Write a 50k novel". Most people wouldn't manage to finish. And the best story that would, would probably benefit from having 2-3 editors, and some advice on plotting, characterization, pacing, worldbuilding, and the kind encouragement that the support teams would provide, in my proposal. However, I don't know what the perfect team-size would be. Maybe it's more optimal to have 10 teams of three people...? But I doubt it. 

Also, the team sizes don't have to be fixed. Direct writer transfers could be arranged, or swaps between teams, to help people better find their place.

And maybe having short weekly meetings, with every writer present, could be useful too. Different teams can discuss their progress, give each others tips, provide motivation and moral support, etc. 

The biggest caveat of this entire approach is, in my opinion, that some writers would end up "unpicked". Nobody would enthusiastically want them, so they'd end up in some random team with a story they may not like, or with a duty they may not be happy with. But it's up to them to negotiate their position and prevent this I guess. 

Another approach could be to pick the 6 team heads by ballot at random, but I believe this would result in worse stories, than sorting by vote of writing ability. I expect most team heads will take the responsibility of actually writing the damn thing, so it makes sense to have them be the "best" writers. 

Does this strategy sound interesting? Do you think it could work? Any ways to improve it further?
This does sound interesting. :)  I think I would suggest starting with a short survey or application form where you ask people what genres they like to write and what their strengths and weaknesses as a writer are.  If you could divide the big 30 person group into two or three groups that like different genres, that would reduce the initial confusion as well as the number of writing samples people would need to read.  If you have a real-life meeting then you could make people nametags, or if you make a discord forum you could assign them roles and/or post the collected applications for everyone to see.


Personally, I'd expect the best writer to not be the one best at producing wordcount, because that's a likely flaw for someone who can produce a good writing sample to have.  You might also get a case where someone who can write well prefers to have a leader and hates the idea of being a leader.  That might be a question to include on your application form too - what role would you want to have within a team?  (Or how would you want to split work with a partner, since a lot of this could apply to a pair-forming strategy too.)

As far as team sizes, I think 4 or fewer would probably be ideal, because just the effort of maintaining communication within the team can get unwieldy as the team gets bigger.

Once you've got teams, they might benefit from some kind of handout or digital form to guide their discussion and write down their generated ideas and decisions.  And you might want to motivate them with some friendly competition by having a forum thread or something where they can post updates to see which groups are making more progress.

I'm out of ideas now, but maybe another poster in the thread will have a suggestion or two. :)

Re: Co-writing - is it effectively impossible to make it work? How would you make it work?

#20
I couldn't co-write. I would NOT be able to share equally, the vision of ANY single writing project. I would eventually start wanting it to steer closer to my vision unless others naturally agreed with me. Thus the more it started drifting away from what I thought was best, the less and less my interest and dedication to it would be. Eventually, I would just leave it altogether. 

i could never share the creation of a story with someone. It has to be all mine, or not at all. Main reason why I can't write fanfiction despite my interest in it. Its either mine during creation, or I'm not getting involved at all. And fanfiction is not and cannot be owned by the writer of it, since the material is already owned by the original creator.