May 30, 2007 6:09 PM   Subscribe

After an abysmal, embarrasing attempt at collaborative fiction by Penguin Books, a new site takes a stab at the Wikinovel, this time, it appears, with a little better organization and planning. Though, still no users.
posted by nospecialfx (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There is a series of ancient legends, going back in to the mists of time and forward to King Arthur's roundtable and as recent as last spring, in which souls are transformed by an unexpected encounter in the forest. Welcome to Beltane...

It's not a good sign when the first and only sentence of a collaberative novel sucks.
posted by brain_drain at 6:31 PM on May 30, 2007

or even a collaborative novel
posted by brain_drain at 6:32 PM on May 30, 2007

The first draft of anything is shit...

someone somewhere said that once.
posted by nospecialfx at 6:35 PM on May 30, 2007

The art of writing is re-writing.

Someone I knew put it that way once.
posted by rabbitsnake at 6:39 PM on May 30, 2007

This is a stupid idea. How can you collaborate on something that is supposed to have a singular vision towards which all of the elements aspire? The characters, setting, themes, diction, plot and style are supposed to work in concert to communicate the author's thought or message.

So why does the world need this?
posted by Pastabagel at 6:39 PM on May 30, 2007

TV writers do it all the time, don't they?

(there are no stupid ideas. or, just not many. stupid people though, well... just read comments on any community-driven site and you'll see.)
posted by nospecialfx at 6:41 PM on May 30, 2007

Writing is re-writing, it has been said.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:49 PM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is a great idea. Collaborating on a work will give it multiple visions towards which the elements aspire. The characters, setting, themes, diction, plot and style are will work in concert but will communicate many different thoughts and messages.

This is what the world needs.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:39 PM on May 30 [+]

posted by Citizen Premier at 6:52 PM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

Truthfully, I worked on a similar project back in the BBS days with great success. Mind you, the introductory parts were pretty weak, but, about a quarter of the way in, we found quite a nice rhythm and started turning out some pretty good work.

An unspoken consensus arose about character and plot fundamentals, which is often a problem for such, but there were a lot of (plausible) plot twists and interactions I doubt any given one of us would have been able to come up with solo.

I think the biggest issue with these works are their public natures. You need the right community to get the right novel...

(Wish I could find that story...)
posted by Samizdata at 6:53 PM on May 30, 2007

The difference between this and a group of writers on a TV show or some informal group assembled to work on the project is that they (a) are employees who usually take direction from someone, the shows creator or a producer, or (b) have some general idea of what they want to accomplish.

This is not the same thing at all. This is any random person wrenching the story in whatever direction they want it to take.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:59 PM on May 30, 2007

I came across a site years ago, where the aim was to create a "common world" - the individual stories were written and submitted by individual authors, but they all shared characters and settings. One story might mention a minor character - someone else may then take that minor character and fill them out in a new story, give them their own adventures.

This seemed to work quite well, and I think it's probably a better way of doing "collaborative" fiction than everyone trying to work on the same story at once. And it's probably also suited to the wiki format. If some past adventure of a character is mentioned in a story, it could link to the wiki page where someone else has written about that past adventure.
posted by Jimbob at 7:00 PM on May 30, 2007

Pastabagel-- you're not up to speed. The site has a paid editor.
posted by nospecialfx at 7:03 PM on May 30, 2007

Jimbob - you might be thinking of Lexicon.

My friends and I started one a while ago... it had spin-offs, it was fun, it didn't last too long.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:05 PM on May 30, 2007

I actually wasn't thinking of lexicon, I was thinking of a place called "Angwel Common World", but since that no-longer exists and I've been looking for something similar for a long time, thank you very much for those links.
posted by Jimbob at 7:10 PM on May 30, 2007

No, I am up to speed.

you can write and edit anything and everything, whether it's your work or someone else's.

That implies that anyone can add or edit anything, regardless of whether it has an editor.

I actually like the idea JimBob describes, sort of a collaborative open source "universe" of characters that anyone can draw from to populate their stories.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:26 PM on May 30, 2007

...and then suddenly a meteor struck metafilter with the force of a thousand Hiroshimas, killing all the little mefites and saving democracy forever.

The End.
posted by Avenger at 7:31 PM on May 30, 2007

You complained that they weren't receiving guidance like tv writers would. You're wrong.
posted by nospecialfx at 7:33 PM on May 30, 2007

THE END, DAMMIT. THE END!!!!!!11!!1!!
posted by Avenger at 7:37 PM on May 30, 2007

multiple visions towards which the elements aspire. The characters, setting, themes, diction, plot and style are will work in concert but will communicate many different thoughts and messages.

Sounds like a Pynch... OH SHIT.

Thomas Pynchon is a committee just like Stanislaw Lem and Shakespeare!!!
posted by sparkletone at 7:52 PM on May 30, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night.

(this is going to be bad)
posted by Flunkie at 7:55 PM on May 30, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night.

It was a dark and stormy night...

I had taken a creative writing course!

posted by sparkletone at 8:13 PM on May 30, 2007

I hope something eventually gets Pynched off.
posted by longsleeves at 8:30 PM on May 30, 2007

I would actually expect that Wikinovel has the potential of developing something like Wikipedia's policies and guidelines -- that is, the community could work out what its consensus plot arc and character beats were, and stuff that didn't conform could be reverted as incompatible with that consensus. Writers who don't build toward the community-preferred end product will get frustrated and leave the project.

It isn't just the edits. Over half of Wikipedia's content is on the Talk pages and Wikipedia (community) namespace.
posted by dhartung at 9:22 PM on May 30, 2007

Consensus plot arc. Can't wait.
posted by longsleeves at 9:37 PM on May 30, 2007

Hollywood already proved that story wikis don't work. A movie sucks in direct relation to how many screenwriters were hired to fix it.
posted by Brian B. at 9:43 PM on May 30, 2007

A hot female English proffessor comes into possession of some scrolls inadvertantly, while looking for ammunition in a divorce case, and uses them for leverage, hoping to force a settlement while not realizing that encoded symbols reveal how to avert catastrophe from the motion of large objects in space.

The Chimps have known all along, however, and have been trying to tell us.

No, wait. That doesn't work.
posted by longsleeves at 9:49 PM on May 30, 2007

no thread about collaborative fiction would be complete without a link to this, one of the oldest and best, which actually spent one week on the new york times bestseller list.
posted by bruce at 12:59 AM on May 31, 2007

I have to say the prologue is off to a good start, although it doesn't bear much resemblance to the beat sheet.
posted by talitha_kumi at 5:01 AM on May 31, 2007

But.. I don't want to read a collaborative novel - it's art by committee. Some things are better non-egalitarian.
posted by stbalbach at 5:29 AM on May 31, 2007

From the Main Page:

Each scene needs laid out with a single sentence, describing what happens

Were it goes, is up to you.

Um, yeah, this is going to be a masturpiece!
posted by languagehat at 6:13 AM on May 31, 2007

there's also, apparently, a new project called Wikiworlds -- similar to what you guys wer talking about. It wasn't there a day ago.
posted by nospecialfx at 5:02 AM on June 1, 2007

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