About twenty years ago, I started co-writing with a friend, who was also an avid reader but only considered herself a sometimes writer. She has a skill with writing – let’s call it the knack. Not everybody can write in a way that makes a reader want to read. She can. Her style was very different to my own back then and still is, but we are both influenced by what we read. As we usually read each other’s writing, we’ve absorbed each other’s style somewhat, though we both distinctly have our own ‘voice’.
My fiction is always fast and furious, action action action, and I’ve also reaped in many compliments and positive feedback from other writers, readers and editors that I am skilled with dialogue. I can make my characters sound different to one another, credibly. My buddy is more descriptive and flowery with her narrative, with detailing thoughts and emotions. This is a good thing, as I find it interesting and appealing to read, and I lack that particular ability to stay in one spot and look around a little. She can meander. I rush. Somewhere in there is a happy medium.
Someone has to be the boss, though. Someone has to decide what works and what doesn’t. With two distinct styles, editing isn’t easy. She and I have written four books together – not so much in that format. We were writing back and forth, a kind of writing exercise, a way to stay in practise while we dealt with our proper book, the epic fantasy. Our play-writing has somehow overtaken our ‘proper’ writing, because we’ve produced a finished, completed work (or four).
The last time my buddy came over for a visit, we did a lot of work together. That’s a really good thing. We used to just talk stuff – parallel ‘what if’ kind of scenes. Scenes where our characters were put in this situation or that situation. They were just games, recreational idioms for us. It turns out that they’ve helped us immensely, because we know each other’s characters inside out. We know what they’d do and say in many situations. I still feel as though I can’t write for her intensely moral, upstanding and self-pitying vampire, and she says she can’t properly write for my perceptive, detached, overly-ambitious mortal, but I think we can.
Because we are.