Writing a collaboration is like interacting in real life. You never know for sure how the other author's character is going to react or what move they're going to make. This uncertainty prevents in-depth planning and makes the narrative feel alive, something uncontrollable. A thrilling and frightening experience.
I would like to clarify before proceeding that, since my collaboration is in the genre of fanfiction where plot is predetermined and the characters exist as bases from which I can build, these reflections will not match those of authors creating a unique story together. Although I am sure there are similar challenges, authors in such partnerships would need extensive planning sessions to iron out the intricacies of plot and interactions. Given how much easier my job is since I'm working from established details, I give those authors a loud and enthusiastic round of applause!
Now we shall return to the experience of collaborating. As a result of the dynamic reality which comes from more realistic interaction, I have encountered several instances where I want to change the instinctual reaction of my character. Since my collaboration with leogrl19 is as much a character study as a plot-driven story, the characters are the story's focus. Therefore, altering their natural reactions defeats the purpose of the exercise.
This all sounds very technical, but it's an extremely emotional process as well. When the character I am writing suddenly demands I have them do something I cannot predict the results of I am deeply affected. The occurrence brought to light how much I like control, even on the most basic level of character decisions. Ultimately, I let the character make their choice and deal with the consequences. I get very emotionally involved with my characters so letting them do this is a bit terrifying, yet also freeing.
The experience has made me less afraid of consequences in a story. It's helping me separate my place as a writer from that of the characters living the narrative. This separation can be fluid and challenging to delineate, so the fact that this collaboration has enabled me to identify it in myself is powerful. I was also naive to how deeply affected by my characters I am, something that feels silly to admit, but is the truth.
Writing with another person is a very intimate process. Writing originates from experience and most of us draw from what is familiar. While no character is ever really the author, there are elements of an author in each person they create. This is why some authors describe characters as their children. They are, in a sense, born from an author and incorporate aspects of their parent, not all of which are positive.
Have any of you ever participated in a collaboration? If so, what has it taught you about being an author? If you haven't, would you like to – why or why not? Perhaps you've experienced some of what I'm describing without writing alongside another author. If so, what are your thoughts? Until next time!