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Collaboration: The Expert Pieces of your Master Story


This is the latest in a series of blogs on what we at Present Tense LLC call a “Master Story”. In this installment, Paul Mooney reminds us how the Master Story is not meant to be written alone, and that the greatest product comes from working with others to perfect your message. Read the first, second, and third parts of the series on our blog.


If told properly, the Master Story of your business will undoubtedly share many parallels with the kinds of stories that make great works of fiction. It will be compelling, informative, captivating and maybe have a solid joke or two thrown in to keep people's attention. It might not be as long as your favorite novel and it may have fewer instances of time traveling robots, but there will definitely be structural similarities.

But unlike novels, which are typically written by a single author, your Master Story will almost certainly be a product of collaboration.

Even the smallest of businesses requires the work of multiple people to get off the ground. With the need for knowledge technology, business, and creative skills equally important in today's professional world, most new companies these days start off as collaborative efforts anyhow. But even one born of a single person needs the input and work of others to bring it to life. A lone founder who comes up with the initial idea will assuredly have to start bringing others onboard to fill in the gaps in their knowledge and capability. A big idea person won't always have the marketing acumen or accounting skills needed to not only keep a company functioning, but also add those extremely necessary parts to the Master Story.

Right now I'm one of several people starting a new production company. As an experienced writer and director, I can speak to our capabilities in those fields and what we can do for clients therein. But I'm not well versed in the technical sides of filmmaking, so that our camera experts and sound engineer fill in part of the story. Our creative producer covers our logistical chapter and the real business side of things is the bailiwick of our executive producer, who worked in finance before moving to film.

Your business may already have people who can cover all the necessary bases to tell your story in full. Or you may come to find that you have gaps to fill, no matter how many partners you've started with. They may not be easily recognized, but they're important to have filled in before you start telling your story on a large scale. If your company is, for example, a marketing firm, you may start off chock full of brief writers and graphic artists. But you'll probably need somebody who can talk about copyright law and trademarking.

We had founding members with expertise across most of the facets of film and video production, but quickly realized we were missing someone with a design background, which we desperately needed. At that point our options were to either find someone with that knowledge or have one of us learn the necessary skill set. We managed to find somebody to fill in that vital gap in our Master Story capability, but in someone else's case it may be easier and/or cheaper to have somebody already onboard to get educated.

When you've begun to cobble together your Master Story from the wisdom of all your various people, be careful not to become compartmented. Each of you should know the story as a whole and be able to tell it, either in a 30 second elevator pitch or at length in a boardroom. We all know the whole Master Story of our production company, but each part of it has at least one person who is the true subject expert that contributed their knowledge and serves as the go-to for any deeper questions a client may have about said subject.

As the old poem goes, "no man is an island." Whatever the correlations between your Master Story and your favorite yarn, it’s best to save solo writing for novels. You need the combined skills and know-how of your team to tell the tale of your business and what it can do. No matter how much of a Renaissance Person you may be, you're going to need experts and coworkers to make your Master Story as complete and thorough as it needs to be.

Paul Mooney is a contributing writer to Present Tense LLC. With a background of film, screenwriting, advertising, and a healthy dose of the Marine Corps he has many stories to share. He is a freelance writer and producer living in New York City. You can follow some of his other writing on Task & Purpose, and some of his witticisms on Uniform Stories. Paul is also the writer and director for Vetted, a television comedy highlighting the follies of veterans transitioning in NYC, and edited the first Present Tense ebook.

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