Often, we (that’s all of us) fear sharing our work. Maybe we are afraid somebody will tell us it is terrible. Maybe we are afraid someone will steal our idea. The point is that we often let our ideas and creations languish in limbo when we could be honing and refining them (and working with others to improve them). I have mentioned before that I have a buddy who is a far better artist than I am. He draws great comics (and other stuff). We collaborate in other ways as well. Often, he will send me a rough strip and ask for my feedback (on the flow, the dialogue, or even just the humor). Less often, I will say “Hey James, I think it would be funny if…”
The result of these collaborations can be quite humorous. The other day, I was gluing an arm back on a scarecrow on a Wizard of Oz Christmas ornament. As I set the ornament aside, I had a vision of myself or my wife (or kid) knocking it off the shelf when it dried. I shared this with James, who combined it with his own experiences to draw this cartoon.
Much of what I have done in the Vergrinn War is collaborative. Before I sat down to write the series, I ran the idea by a good friend of mine (my earliest beta reader and the loose basis for the character Saegrimr). He liked the premise, and he liked the characters, and away I went. (as an aside, I even occasionally find myself asking this guy what he thinks Saegrimr would do in a given situation, as he knows he is the general inspiration for that character).
Most of my improvements to the story and characters have come from suggestions from a small group of beta readers (I did add a map and a pronunciation guide to my books based on feedback from an Amazon customer). I think that for anyone who wants to create a good work of writing, collaboration is the key. We need to learn to reach out and take advantage of the resources available to us. You might find that the more you collaborate with them, the more they collaborate with you (as my friend James and I do).