Collaborative Writing – Characters

It’s been very interesting working on a collaborative novel.  One of the most interesting things I’ve found, though, is how characters have worked.

We each have a viewpoint character.  I think a lot of collaborative novels work this way, at least all the ones I can think of off the top of my head do – Good Omens, Dogs and Goddesses, Sorcery and Cecilia, Agnes and the Hitman, etc.  In our case, these are established characters; they each have at least a previous novel under their belts, which was kind of nice, because we were already familiar with their characterizations and personalities before we started.

So you have your own character, and then you have your partner’s character whom you don’t know as well and have to try not to mess up.  When we started, a lot of times after we’d finished a scene, the other person would have to go through and fix dialogue and motivations or things we’d forgotten.  (I think we both managed to forget that my character wears glasses for the entire middle of the book.)

But, as the story went on, less corrections were needed.  Eventually we got to the point where, if any fixes were needed at all, it was a tweak here or there or something plot-related and not character-related at all.  I’m not sure if we just picked up the other person’s character well enough over time or if the characters evolved to fit the story.  It is a mystery.

When we’re done with this, I’d like to try another story, with new characters, and see if it works the same way or if it’s easier/harder from the beginning.

Any experience with collaborative stories?  How’d you find the characterization worked?

2 responses to this post.

  1. I thoroughly admit that I did indeed forget the glasses. I think I was roped up in the whole ‘stuck in the forest with a creepy vengeful guy’ situation.

    From my other collaborative work, I’d say that characterization did start the same way where a lot of initial corrections were needed on actions and dialogue. It is also more challenging with a fresh character rather than someone from another book.


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