It wasn’t until the fourth draft of POTION that Sherylyn and I realised we didn’t see the characters the same way.
Tegan, one of the point-of-view characters in Potion has long dark curls that frame her face. We mention her eye colour—blue—when comparing her to someone else but that’s pretty much all the description you get of Tegan’s physical features.
We were talking one day and realised that Sherylyn’s Tegan had rich, chocolate brown hair with chestnut highlights that fell half-way between her shoulder and her waist, and the curls were quite, well, curly. My Tegan, however had hair that fell past her waist. It was darker, and the curls were more waves than actual curls.
In another story, SHARED MEMORIES, the point-of-view character comes from a world called Nuan. Sherylyn pronounces it “Noo-one”, I pronounce it “Nah-wonn”.
Does it matter?
Not in the least?
The vision we share for a book depends less on the physical than on how the characters act and react. Yes, there are some phyisical things we know about each character—Tegan’s long dark curls, for example—but it’s more, “Tegan wouldn’t muck around like this. She would unleash a magical firebolt instead, and it would all be over in minutes”, than “That’s not how Tegan looks”.
We do, however, need to share a common vision for the story, and where it’s going. I mentioned in an earlier blog about writing as a team that before we start writing we talk about the story, finessing it until we have a story we can both visualise and are prepared to work on. SATISFACTION is the most extreme example of this to date, where my original idea was changed totally. Changed for me, that is. The final concept of SATISFACTION, the one we’re going to write, is the picture Sherylyn saw in her mind in the first five minutes as I described it to her that first day.
That was unusual. Normally we meet somewhere in the middle.
Writing a book with a writing partner is a lot like reading a book you both love. What each of you gets out of a book when you read it is totally your own. But it doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of the story for either of you.