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Collaborative JE Fiction

Cliff (4114) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 9

OK, Sam -- here we go! A while ago, I was impressed by RDewald and a piece of off-the-cuff fiction and it reminded me of an old excercise that I used to engage in from my BBS days:

Collaborative Fiction

So I was wondering who would be interested in such an experiment, here on Slashdot, in our journals?OK, Sam -- here we go! A while ago, I was impressed by RDewald and a piece of off-the-cuff fiction and it reminded me of an old excercise that I used to engage in from my BBS days:

Collaborative Fiction

So I was wondering who would be interested in such an experiment, here on Slashdot, in our journals?

The way I was thinking about doing it is this. We'll try a short story, for a test. If we like doing it, we can try and get more ambitious until we get bored with it. I have a few guidelines to start us off, and am welcoming suggestions from those who are interested.

First off, the list of guidelines, I've thought of:

  • As stated, let's start off with a short story to see how well this works. Depending on the number of participants, we'll do [n] chapters of [n] parts, where [n] is the number of participants. If we get a large number of folks interested in this, we'll limit the number of chapters to 5-10 -- whatever you guys decide.
  • Anything goes in the genre. It will be interesting to see how it starts and how well some of us can weave our characters together into a cohesive plot.
  • Anything goes with your own characters. Treat them as you see fit, however no writing out someone else's characters. You can back them into a wall, but leave the owner a way out (and we're all friends here -- I hope -- so in the interest of drama, if you write a cliffhanger, please communicate with the character owner your intent). Characters whom their creators wash their hands of are free game.
  • We can lay out the story chapters in several different ways. For consistency, however, each part from each different participant will start off as a comment in the journal that starts each chapter. As each part is fleshed out and adjusted in the comments, the JE entry that holds the chapter will be updated with the new text.
  • Chapters can appear here, or we can alternate who starts what chapter among the participants in the comments attached to the previous chapter.
  • Let's get the arrangement and clarifications out of the way, first, before we officially start writing anything.
  • I would have liked to open this up to everyone, but in the interest of focus, I've marked this journal as "Friends and FoFs" -- this will probably be the recommended setting for each chapter unless the majority of you feel differently.

That's all I can think of right now. Let the discussion begin. I'll update this JE with suggestions, ideas and conclusions that get hashed out in the discussion.

Have at it, everyone! :D

So far so good, 3 people have expressed interest:

  • johndiii
  • SamTheButcher
  • Em Emalb

cancel ×


I'd be interested... (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 10 years ago | (#8622462)

(thanks for the FoF thing) What sort of time frame did you have in mind for completing a chapter? I assume one thread for each individual's part, with comments and perhaps revisions. Do you have any notion of how long a chapter would be? From my concept of a short story, one could be finished in a single JE.

Could be a lot of fun.

Time Frames and Chapter Lengths (1)

Cliff (4114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8622614)

Timeframes: Well, that's one thing I was hoping to get feedback on. I think we could go as long as one week for each person to get their chapter in. This, of course, depends on the amount of participation we have. As the number of writers increase, chapter time would have to be increased as well, quite possibly, dramatically.

If we had a pool of 5 people, we probably wouldn't need more than 2 days per chapter, however if we double that, we'd probably need a week. Double THAT, and it would probably turn into 3 weeks. It's hard to say without a better idea of the number of people interested.

As stated in the JE, I think each "chapter" should have room for each participant. Participants can 'opt-out' of a chapter if they want.

Length: Yeah, if we had a nice cohesive group, and enough people participating, we could finish an entire plotline in one JE, but we're just starting out, and it might take time to introduce the characters, establish the overall plotline, and people will definitely need to get used to everyone's writing style. This is why, for this first attempt, I'm figuring at least 2 chapters. Suggestions on the maximum length are welcome.

Re:Time Frames and Chapter Lengths (1)

johndiii (229824) | more than 10 years ago | (#8622750)

Sounds good, in terms of timeframe. For a beginning, it might be better to go for the one week time frame, and fit the group to that. The duration would probably decrease, as people become more familiar with the process.

I assumed that each person would participate in each chapter, based on the theme of the chapter originator. It might be good to start with a strict sequence for contributors (though trading could be allowed). Opt-out is a good idea, given the volatility of schedules. If it were to be used extensively, perhaps characters should be passed along to other participants, rather than just being left hanging.

It might be a good idea to set a guideline for time length, rather than (or in addition to) maximum number of chapters. If it works well, then no problem; otherwise, a deadline could serve as a motivator. It would also give people some idea of the time commitment that they're signing up for. I'm pretty open in terms of length. My limit would more likely be an hours per day dort of thing.

I assume that there will also be some kind of meta-discussion as the story progresses, either in the chapter JE or in your journal.

Re:Time Frames and Chapter Lengths (1)

Cliff (4114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8623251)

If people want to work by deadlines, I'm more than happy to oblige. That's one of the things I wanted to hash out. So let's be clear:

If you are interested, and have ideas on time frames and length, let your voice be heard! Nothing is set in stone, yet.

Each participant has the option to participate in whatever chapter they want. They also have the option to not be heard. Sometimes, pacing of characters doesn't have to be fast. This gives people the chance to write at their own pace, as the story develops. It also is the best option for a wide variety of schedules, as you point out. For some, creativity isn't a tap that they can turn on and off, and I'm trying to allow for that. With respect to characters: If you put a character out there, it's fair game aside from write-outs without the originators permission. Everything else is subject to the meta-discussions. If the character's creator doesn't like a given plotline that uses their character, they have the right to request it pulled or revised. Like I said, we're all friends here. This is more a team building excercise than anything else.

To address your last point: meta-discussions are expected and encoraged. We have these JEs and comments, and I want to use them! Also, I expect the text to mutate over time as the discussions progress. I want to see how well this fluidity works in a creative endeavour.

Re:Time Frames and Chapter Lengths (1)

SamTheButcher (574069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8624617)'re really talking about collaborative! I guess I had in mind more of just like a serial fiction, a new chapter in each JE or something, but this is a cool idea. I don't know if I have any comments about the time frame - except that, well, two weeks almost seems about right to give people a chance to comment fully and work it all out. Even so, that's 26 chapters in a year, enough for a book. You could even do a follow-up JE for extra comments after the two week period, while the new chapter is being worked on to allow for revisions after the two-week period. So I guess I did have a comment about timeframe. :)

"Team building". I like that.

Go team! Put me in, Coach, I'm ready to play!

Re:Time Frames and Chapter Lengths (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 10 years ago | (#8628223)

I'll play....

Fear the squirrels.

in (1)

rdewald (229443) | more than 10 years ago | (#8725690)

RDeWald (note the W) rubs the sleep out of his eyes and shuffles through the growing pile of papers on his desk looking for Cliff's Notes. The hookers had read them to him the night before, but that was before the unfortunate situation with the agave plant.

The Ellen Degeneres Show was blaring from the TV, so before anything else could happen he had to find the remote. He finds it, the racket ceases. There might be a God after all.

The car would be by to take him to the airport any minute. He was definitely going to have to find his clothes in a hurry in order to make that plane to Dubai. Focus, R, the bugs are just a hallucination. Cliff left him a note, it might be able to help him find his socks, so he continues to rifle through the papers on the desk in the vain hope that one of these receipts will suddenly turn into Cliff's Note.

$48 for "special mustard?" Oh God.

*snork* (1)

Cliff (4114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8740095)

Thanks for my first laugh of the day, man.

So was wondering if the suggestions put forth so far will work for you. If you have criticisms and other suggestions, please put them forth.

That's assuming you ever find those notes. Did you check your suitcase? Hope those end up in the same place you do. Airports are a bitch.

BTW - Why are you sweating the mustard. Doesn't everyone have a bottle of Grey Poupon in their dashboards, these days?

Re:*snork* (1)

rdewald (229443) | more than 10 years ago | (#8740288)

I've never done collaborative fiction, so I have no idea what is a good idea and what isn't. I say we treat it like a midnight visit to a swimmin' hole, lets take off overthing we don't want wet and jump in.

"Special mustard" in parts of Thailand is code that English-speaking ex-pats use for methamphetamine. R paid for it but didn't get any of it (R is a recurring character in my fiction). The hookers got high enough to keep working all night off of his dime. No big deal, it's just humiliating for R to get taken for a ride by women he paid to be there. Those damn agave plants!
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