Collaborative writing

In some cases, you may have decided to produce a SenGuide module with a friend or a group of friends.  That’s a great idea, it makes learning a very social affair! Writing together might seem a bit daunting at first – who will write what, how will it all tie in together, will it sound strange? It doesn’t need to be difficult, with a small bit of advance planning.

First step is to arrange a meeting, face to face if it is possible, or on Zoom if it is not. You will of course have decided on the topic of your module, but this first meeting will be mainly to get organized.

Definition of roles

The best way to allocate roles is to go with everyone’s strongest point. The organizers organize, the photographers take photographs, the actors get filmed, the writers write.  However, everyone will probably need to do a little bit of writing to produce the written part of the module. Once you have decided on a structure, you can allocate a unit/section to each person. You will all have practiced informal writing in the previous unit and sections, so there should be some unity of tone.  This can also be touched up at editing time.

Online tools for collaborative writing

This is probably the most important aspect of collaborative writing.  If you live close by and can meet often to read each other’s sections and comment, please work that way.  If that is not possible, we would recommend using Google Documents to write your first draft.

Create a document that you share with your co-author(s).  Write an outline, with the headings for each section.  Allocate the sections. Once they are written, or being written, it is easy for the other author to change/edit/add text,  or to add comments to suggest some changes.  The document will always be available to the group, and each version is saved in the history, so if someone accidentally deletes something very important, it is easy to revert back to that version.

As an added precaution, and to see at first glance who is writing what, you can also decide on a colour for the text of each person.  Mary will write in blue, Jack in purple, Helen in green, etc.


Course: Writing online

Course instructors