Collaborative writing is often not the best way to get your message across to as large a group of people as possible. The fact of the matter is that when two authors write a book together it often ends with their personalities clashing. After all, each individual writer has a strong understanding of their craft, as well as a specific style that they will tend to focus on while they are undergoing the task of completing a specific novel or short story. There are plenty of examples of bad collaborations in the world of literature. Even the likes of literary legends Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs were guilty of a subpar collaboration, and this was in spite of the fact that they were both part of the same literary movement.
Good Omens might an example of how good collaborative writing can be, and in many ways exemplifies the best of collaborative literature. In many ways it hasn’t just equaled great collaborative novels of the past, such as the progenitor of the steampunk genre that was The Difference Engine which was released the same year as Good Omens. In fact, it might just be superior to this novel, as well as any other collaborative novel that has ever been worked on.
The authors that collaborated to create this novel are definitely a big deal. None other than Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, in fact. It is fair to say that Gaiman was the newbie in this situation, but in spite of the fact that these two authors shared a strange dynamic akin to that of an apprentice and a mentor, their voices ended up complimenting each other’s. The fact of the matter is that they both have writing styles that are unique in their own way, but, whether by serendipitous happenstance or by willful efforts on the parts of both of these authors, these individual voices came together to create a glorious singular narrative.
If we were to try and understand the value of this novel as well as why it has remained so popular, it can be easily ascertained from realizing that this novel is just plain fun to read. Its humor lies in its wit, not in its over the top overtures towards comedy. The characterizations are vivid and realistic, and we become genuinely invested in the characters. There also seems to be a genuine enthusiasm for the craft which can be explained by realizing that both of these authors pretty much only collaborated for the fun of it rather than money. The novel ended up becoming a best seller so they did in fact end up earning money from it, but the fact remains that the genesis of the project came about due to their love of writing and their desire to create something that was truly worthwhile. This is why Good Omens might just be the greatest collaborative novel ever, because its intention was pure from the very start.