Writing together – are two heads better than one?

We have been writing together for some time now but only recently started to figure out what that means to us. Here is a little Q&A about writing together.

1. Why do you write together? 

Andy: For us, reading is a passion shared so to put our heads together and come up with ideas makes sense. 

Frida: Stories are something that we both enjoy. We have a similar outlook on life and we like to build stories around us. It felt natural to also write together.

2. How did we start?

Andy:  Soon after we met we started to write improvised text that became short stories. After that we decided to make something of it and hence the Burning Squid

Frida: We came up with a lot of elements for Adventures of Wilhelmina and one day I said we should write a children’s book around it.

3. Where did the name The Burning Squid come from? 

Frida: Andy used to call me a hamster squid and his nickname is Burnsy. Combine two to The Burning Squid and you get a pretty rad name for a bar. 

Andy: We started to build Cyd and Cordelia’s story around that bar and the name became part of us. So we didn’t have to think twice what we would call our project. 

4. Pros and cons of writing together?

Andy: Pros are that we pool our thoughts and ideas together and come up with something we may not have thought about individually. Cons are that sometimes our opinions differ and we can not always agree to one certain point but we can find compromises.

Frida: Pros are definitely the two heads together. When you can mirror your ideas and talk about them from the very beginning. Cons are our different backgrounds in writing. I have been writing and studying creative writing for years and sometimes I tend to take more of a teacher role when we work together. Though sometimes that is a pro too because Andy is a diamond in the rough and helps me to be less critical in the process and have more fun with it.

5. How writing together works for us in practice?

Andy: We write our ideas on our own to begin with and share them to edit as we see fit. We also write together on a joint file  so we can see the changes live as well. At times we video chat and share our ideas while writing.

Frida: We talk a lot. We come up with ideas and sometimes the ideas are very organic. We can start from a silly joke and end up with something we can use in one of our stories. 

We write Chronicles of Salaboa in English but Adventures of Wilhelmina in Finnish. Andy doesn’t yet speak or write Finnish. So it means a lot of translating back and forth and trying to get everything right in the final version. First we designed the plot and characters. Then we framed the chapters and now both are writing our own parts. I translate my parts roughly to Andy so he can comment and we can talk about all the details and translate his texts to the final form in Finnish. It may seem a lot of work but actually writing like this has given us a chance to make polished finished text much faster during the process. 

6. What does the other bring to the table?

Andy: Frida brings a lot of her experience as a published writer to help me with how stories are structured and how they are laid out to make my writing more crisp and focused. Her style of writing and the stories she writes are very close to the stories I enjoy.

Frida: Andy is a wizard of plotting. I tend to be way too analytical sometimes to actually see outside of the box. So Andy definitely helps me with that. Andy also has more knowledge of genres, I tend to be way more limited what comes to mixing and playing with the genres.

7. Do we have any difference in writing styles?

Andy: Personally I always write the story as if I lived in the present (even though it’s a pain for Frida). It may not be the way it is usually done but I like to think I am portraying the characters of the story, living through them and the actions they take to shape the tale. 

Frida: Andy is definitely a present tense writer. Past tense feels more natural to me, especially for longer texts. Because we write with two languages but only have one language together for now, it is sometimes hard to explain something or translate something the way it should be. But we are both learning. Translating text back and forth between English and Finnish also helps to see what is not expressed strong enough or what seems loose in the context. 

8. Do you have individual projects?

Andy: I don’t have any solid plans for an individual project, but I have dabbled in my spare time on some short stories or ideas I like to put across some time in the future.

Frida: I write a lot. Besides The Burning Squid projects I am officially writing one novel for adults. But to be honest I have three novels on the table, one play and some poems. I like to have more than one project going on at once to be able to switch between them when I get stuck or bored. More about my other project can be found on my blog perjantaipainos.com.

9. What are our plans for the future?

Andy: Well we have two projects now, ‘The Adventures of Wilhelmina’ and ‘The Chronicles of Salaboa’. Once we get these done and hopefully published we have talked about maybe doing gaming projects around our story worlds and of course we will come up with new ideas as well.

Frida: I hope The Burning Squid will find its form and become a publishing house and an interactive story platform. I hope someday this is what we will do for a living. 

Picture StockSnap Pixabay

Gaming and Interactive Story Telling

Since the magic of cinema and books, people’s imagination has grown and sparked. When people see their favourite characters come to life it helps them see themselves as the main heroes (or villains if that’s what suits them). This also helps people to re-enact their favourite moments with the characters they love.

The beauty of games, especially role playing games, is that not only can people live out stories but create something new and unique to them. The main difference between films/books and role-playing games is that the story of the latter is not set in stone and is decided purely by the players and the actions they take within the plot. 

Imagination comes alive

Gaming for me has always been a gateway to another world where my imagination can come alive. It also has been a way for me to be open and more social among others as it has been a big part of my life. I started back when I was about 6 years old with Heroquest being my first game with the family and I have been hooked ever since.

Role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons can form very strong communities. The dungeon master (the person who runs the story for the players) has a huge role as they create the world, the characters and the history. With all these combined, it makes the adventure feel alive and gives the best experience possible for the players leaving them wanting more.

The players also make the difference as their actions with the characters help shape the world around them and challenge the dungeon master to adapt and rise to the challenge of keeping the players on their toes.

Modern campfire 

Before literature, story telling used to be more interactive when people would gather around a campfire and tell their tales to each other. With books however, even if they do provide an adventure, it is a more solitary experience with not a lot of interaction between people. The author writes their story alone and the readers would then read it later usually in their own solitude. Games and roleplaying games help bring back that campfire experience where people gather not only to tell a story but to live it. 

That’s what we aim to do with our work. We would like to make games and stories that are accessible to a wide audience, so they can have their own moments of being a hero in a world they can also shape.

Image: StockSnap Pixabay 

Adventures of Wilhelmina – Where it all began

This Children’s book project started like most of our projects, with a few wacky convos and ideas that formed from those.

Unlike the other ideas, The Adventures of Wilhelmina was created before we ever even met in person and it is our original project with the Burning Squid.

We wanted to write a children’s novel that would feel interactive and spark our readers’ imagination. We have decided on a mixture of genres such as epic fantasy, urban fantasy and light classical horror that can be an introduction to these types of worlds to our young readers.

With our combined background in gaming and storytelling, we aim to make the chapters crammed with enough excitement so that it can be read, for example, as a light bedtime story but also encourages the reader to unravel the whole adventure. We want our story to help parents to be involved and motivate their children to want to read by themselves as well.

One of our main goals aside from making this story a published work for reading, we also later down the line wish to base some games/role-playing-books from the world we created. This includes some interactive stories that are similar to choose-your-own-adventure genres for example. These ideas will come to light further down the line and we look forward to sharing these with you closer to the time .

The Adventure Awaits

The story focuses on two young wannabe adventurers, Robin and Lila. Lila is 11-year-old daughter of an inventor and she has her own little airship called Wlhelmina. 12-year-old Robin is spending his summer with his grandfather next door while his academic adventurer parents are looking for new treasures around the world, which he finds most unfair as he feels left out. 

When Lila and Robin meet, Lila convinces Robin to embark on their own grand adventure. Lila needs to find her long lost cat and Robin just wants to do something else rather than snooze in the garden with his grandfather.

What seems to be a mundane task to begin with, somehow their escapades grow more and more epic as they come across Yetis, zombies, dragons and of course cats, a lot of cats!

The story is suitable for the whole family and especially children aged 7 to 12. Join us on The Adventures of Wilhelmina when we reveal more info about the story in our blog and social media: Facebook and Instagram.

A New Dawn

This is the 1st sneak peek into the story world that we are exploring . We hope you enjoy and please leave feedback in comments.

The morning was chill and bright. Syd woke up before the scruffy rooster had crowed his wake up call in the early morning light. But that was not untypical. Syd was a light sleeper and was happy to be an early bird. 

He grabbed his discarded clothes from the night before, rough but practical, and headed downstairs to the main bar. The smell of old ale and sweat hit him like a hammer as he entered. Most would say it was unpleasant but he has grown used to it now, almost enjoying it as it felt familiar.

Cordelia was already behind the counter heating the oven to bake some pies for the early customers. Sometimes Syd wondered if his sister slept at all. They had been running the bar together since their parents had died a few years ago and it had been far more difficult than he had ever anticipated. He had to make sure they had enough sales and provisions to keep the business afloat. At times, it felt like too much responsibility.

However this didn’t seem to faze Cordelia, as she always seemed to hum and sing to herself while she worked. She had an air about her that brought calm to all and she was good with people. Even though the bar was known as a rough place at times with less than credible folk, everyone seemed to warm to Cordelia and any fights that broke out soon stopped when she was present.

This place had been the refuge for all races. The kingdom of Salaboa was a mix of everything – from common humans to ancient clans of elves and dwarfs. However it was also home to some more unusual races, like ogres, ratmen and even the odd werefolk. But in this world everyone was supposed to stay with their own kind, but Syd’s parents had wanted the bar to be a safe haven where everyone was treated equally. Here, in the edge of their village, folks came from all the corners of the kingdom to make business, meet secret lovers and talk whatever matters they felt like. Syd kept his mouth shut to all things he overheard in the bar and poured ale with a crooked smile on his freckled face as he continued his parents’ beloved work.

A heavy set of footsteps outside broke his thoughts and made him smile. There was only one that could make such noise, so Syd went out to greet him. The sunlight was soon blocked out by the immense shape of the creature before him. Syd had to crane his neck to look upon the familiar face of their bouncer, an ogre with a wide, almost unnerving smile. To most Grond was a terrifying creature but was actually quite soft amongst his kind, smaller than most ogres too. Grond stepped past Syd, clapping him on the back and nearly knocking him flat as he made his way inside. 

Syd picked himself up and saw Grond take his usual perch at the bar licking his lips. Cordelia was almost done with the baking and the first set of pies were already in the oven. The warm smell of onions and beef started to already hide the vapid characteristic odor of the bar. Grond proceeded to grab a sturdy stool at the counter and Syd knew Cordelia would give him a taste from the first set out of the oven. The two never had a chat. Grond hardly spoke at all and Cordelia was a silent type too, but somehow those two were always in sync and seemed to understand each other from a single gesture. Syd felt comfortable around them, safe. This was his family now.

Syd closed his eyes and absorbed the sounds in the distance, the village starting to wake up, the seagulls squawking as they flew over the shore in search for food and the clanging from old Sven the blacksmith as he crafted the finest weapons and armour. A rusty creak from above drew Syd’s attention. An old tatty, weatherworn sign dangled and moved in the slight breeze, an image of a tentacle in flames proudly stood out along with some chipped text. Syd chuckled to himself thinking they always needed to get that sign fixed, maybe he would visit Sven to get him to have a look at it. With this in mind he headed towards the forge with a spring in his step, leaving the door behind him unlocked. The Burning Squid would soon be open for business. 

Stay Tuned – Coming Soon

When a geeky writer and a gaming nerd entered a bar (or nerdy group in a Kik messenger)…. It may have started as a joke but now we look to become a serious business.

Meet Andy and Frida, the dreamers of the project called The Burning Squid. Our goal is to combine fantasy stories and board/rpg games in new inspiring ways.

Stay tuned for our fiction, nonfiction and game projects in near future.

We are looking to open the site early July. We also nerd out in our Instagram and Facebook @theburningsquid.