Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I discovered Will Grayson, Will Grayson when reading book reviews on other blogs, and it sounded amazing. This book is by two authors, John Green and David Levithan, and it is about two boys both named Will Grayson. The chapters alternate between the two Will Graysons’ points of view, with Green writing the Will Grayson who opens the book, and Levithan’s Will Grayson following him up and ultimately concluding the book.

Jacket blurb: “It’s not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old–including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire–Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most awesome high school musical.”

First of all, I really liked it. Even though I’ve heard that both authors are rather prolific YA writers right now, I haven’t read anything by either of them (yet), so I didn’t have any expectations based on their past work.

What I am most amazed by is the collaboration. I have always wondered how writers can pull them off. To work together means you have to surrender some of the creative power, whether over plot or character, or over simpler things like structure or hair color or setting or whatever. But outside influence can do amazing things for someone’s writing as well, if handled the right way. There’s a new creativity well to tap, and a fresh perspective who really understands where you’re coming from because he or she is just as involved as you.

My experience in collaboration:

  • Good–In high school for fun I would write “pass around stories” with my friends, where each person adds a sentence or two, with the goal being to make the story as wacky as possible (and sometimes to put the person who goes after you in a horribly difficult place to write out of).
  • Bad–In 8th grade I won a story-writing competition with Future Problem Solvers and got to compete at the international level. I’d written the winning story on my own, with lots of editing from my dad and English teacher. At this competition, though, they grouped me with two winners from other states and expected us to work together to write a new story in a short time frame. This was a disaster. I can get along with pretty much everybody, but these two girls did not like each other. We couldn’t agree on anything. I’m surprised we got any kind of story turned in at the end. Needless to say, on the awards night, of the three teams in our age group, ours was the one that didn’t win anything. Maybe we should have done a pass-around-story.

I think John Green and David Levithan pulled off their collaboration exceptionally well, though. I love that they took turns writing about their characters and did it in their distinct styles. The book worked so well–I could tell they really enjoyed working with each other. I think if I ever tried a collaboration on a novel, this would be the way to do it. It’s kind of like a pass-around-story, too…kind of.

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