A million monkeys... December 12, 2007 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I hereby propose a Metafilter Writers Collaboration.

Metafilter has a bunch of extremely talented writers. Freebird, robocop is bleeding and Jofus, to name just three. Metafilter also has me; a hack who is itching to write more than he currently does. Were we to pool these talents into focusing on one collaborative project, perhaps we could write the greatest novel known to mankind!

Or, at the very least, something our fellow MeFites could enjoy.

Here's how I see this working.

We get together a group of six to twelve (max) MeFites who are interested in writing fiction for this project. Together we nut out a subject to write about. It could be almost anything. Aliens, hookers, drugs, a combination of them all... whatever. The sky is the limit. We'd try and nut out the subject we could all agree on before January 1st.

Then we would assign chapters. Someone would volunteer to write the first chapter, and depending on how many writers are involved, he or she would have between one and two months to finish their part of the story. Then the writer would forward their chapter on to the next writer, and so on and so forth, with each writer building upon the story that had been written so far. Ultimately the final book would be finished by December 25th, 2008; a sort of Christmas present for our fellow MeFites.

I'd also recommend that while there be no maximum word limit, a minimum of three pages be written at the very least, to ensure what we write is something our readers can really get their teeth into, and to ensure that the writer who follows you has something worthwhile to follow.

And obviously, I'll put my hand up for the project straight away, leaving us with only 5 to 11 open spots.

I'm open to any other ideas that could make this happen. So now it's over to you. Who wants in? What should we write about? And for those who want to read what we write but don't want to get involved themselves, how about offering up some suggestions about what we should write about?
posted by Effigy2000 to MetaFilter-Related at 2:38 PM (165 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

'Nut out'?
posted by box at 2:42 PM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Dope-addicted Hookers From Space! on the next MeFi.
posted by jonmc at 2:43 PM on December 12, 2007

Then we would assign chapters.

Is the idea that this'll be a work of continuous narrative fiction, as opposed to a volume of independent short thematic works? Because if it's the former, I have this very sum-is-less-than-the-parts concern about the difficulty of getting something cohesive going with very different voices tagging in.

But I don't mean to be a humbug; it sounds like it could be great fun. I just want to undersatnd what the idea is, form-wise, and what prospective writers would be getting themselves into.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:45 PM on December 12, 2007

Oh what the heck, I'll do it. I think we should pick our topic from a selection of most favorited Agony Aunt AskMefi questions.
posted by headspace at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night...

...just the way I like it. Perfect for smores around the fireplace and hot cocoa, and going to bed early with a good book.

The End.
posted by loquacious at 2:48 PM on December 12, 2007

An electronic writer's workshop could be a cool idea, with stories focusing on one theme could be interesting. But trying to write a book that way isn't a very good idea (IMO).
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on December 12, 2007

"Is the idea that this'll be a work of continuous narrative fiction, as opposed to a volume of independent short thematic works? Because if it's the former, I have this very sum-is-less-than-the-parts concern about the difficulty of getting something cohesive going with very different voices tagging in."

That's how I saw the idea. I think there are difficulties involved like those you mentioned in doing it this way, but it could also be a lot of fun. And with two months to fine tune your part of the story it could be relatively easy to try and make the whole thing cohesive, if each writer goes about this in good faith.

But I'm open to a novel of collected short stories, if that's what most of us would like to do.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:51 PM on December 12, 2007

Short stories! Short stories!
posted by headspace at 2:52 PM on December 12, 2007

I am intrigued. Like you, I am a hack - but interested in writing more. I agree with cortex that trying to write a continuous work would be difficult (but potentially very enjoyable); I am thinking a Thieves World type of collaboration, where we agree upon a setting/theme/something to give it all common ground, and each write a short piece inside of that.

One of the things I find interesting/enjoyable about those types of collaborations is that authors are allowed to play with each other's characters to some extent.

I think the idea needs fleshing out, but it is worth pursuing.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:53 PM on December 12, 2007

The "everybody throw in your short story on a common theme" approach seems better to me. The "finish my storyline" approach works well for talking, but I don't think that translates well on to the page.

Or, rather than a theme, you might require what one of my college essays required-- everyone got the same short list of random stuff and the challenge was to include it in a short story. And I think the idea was not to be so obvious about it. It shouldn't stick out as a required thing. I think it was 5 or so items. The only ones I remember are a tomato and dental floss. Pick better than they did if you go for that one.
posted by Tehanu at 2:58 PM on December 12, 2007

Also, I was too busy grousing and shivering to be clear about this, so:

I'd be interested in participating, regardless of the form.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:00 PM on December 12, 2007

I haven't written anything in yonks, but I'm also intrigued - I do best when I have a deadline and theme/topic, so I like the idea of a you-do-the-next-chapter collaboration. But I could dig the short story/common theme thing, too.

Leap before you look. Okay, count me in, if possible.
posted by rtha at 3:00 PM on December 12, 2007

I agree with never used baby shoes about the Thieves World type arrangement - avoids the problems of trying to force completely different styles into a single story, more interesting than a bunch of stories vaguely connected by a theme.
posted by logicpunk at 3:01 PM on December 12, 2007

I love to write and read fiction, but I can't honestly see myself putting a part of a greater whole out there and knowing that someone else will edit it, without my input. I just cannot take the possibility that I wouldn't have control over it. I understand how the writing would work, but would each person edit the previous writer's work? You'd have to read everything written prior anyway, so I guess that could work.

So I guess what I'm saying is...maybe. Maybe I can do it, even if we'd be writing about dope-addicted hookers from space. I think separate stories all based on the same idea might be more practical, but writing is fun, so wtf. I'm also volunteering for some editing work, whether or not I actually participate in the writing process, because spelling errors drive me crazy.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 3:01 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm intrigued by the Thieves' World idea but I'm not familiar with it. Wikipedia didn't enlighten me as to how that process worked.
posted by Tehanu at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2007

I would like to participate, if places are still available.
posted by WPW at 3:22 PM on December 12, 2007

Thieves World is like fan fiction, only for your own original universe. Everybody writes in the same universe (and sometimes, consequently, sometimes you run into other people's characters in your story,) but each story is individual and standalone.
posted by headspace at 3:23 PM on December 12, 2007

I propose a sequel to The Illuminatus! Trilogy.
posted by empath at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2007

Yes, the idea behind Thieves World was a common setting (a city - can't remember the name), and each writer involved created a character in that city. In subsequent stories, the writers were free to pick up on, and use, characters created by the other writers - flesh them out, add to them, etc, but they had to avoid doing things like killing them off or writing them into situations that would leave them unavailable for future use.

It got weird once they started collectively introducing world changing events (I think they did an invasion by a foreign power, and the subsequent occupation), but the first few books were fun. I have fond memories of some stories from the series.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:30 PM on December 12, 2007

I actually think a Mefi Short Story Compilation would be delightful. You can put it on one of the self-pub sites. We just need to pick an editor, cover artist, etc. We can do it just like the mefi music cd.
posted by empath at 3:30 PM on December 12, 2007

All my commenting about this direction aside, I am very interested in participating - whatever the final form.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:31 PM on December 12, 2007

Short stories, continuous narrative, interweaved narratives, Thieves' World, it all sounds good. Yeah. The more I think about this, the more I would like to participate.
posted by WPW at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2007

The Mefi 2008 Literary Review: Featuring Art, Poetry, Comics, Short Fiction and Essays

We could do better than McSweeny's :)
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm in!
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:36 PM on December 12, 2007

Sure! The short stories idea has merit - we all agree upon a certain theme and then go at it. Or setting. Or word that must be used.

Building a single narrative would be more difficult - we'd need to agree on a plot, characters, pacing, and so on. I'd worry we'd get lost in bureaucracy. I'm not saying it couldn't be done, just that we may want to try out some softer collaborations before we start to pull hair. ;)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:41 PM on December 12, 2007

One idea: before embarking on an ambitious project like a novel or compilation, what about a small-scale trial? Each participant putting 1000 words towards a short story, for instance?

Just a thought.
posted by WPW at 3:42 PM on December 12, 2007

I also am one that is in, too.
posted by logicpunk at 3:42 PM on December 12, 2007

I kind of like the Thieves' World idea, and while I'm not an amazing writer or anything, I'd love to participate.

If you decide to do it where the work is sent to one person at a time, count me out...I don't want people waiting on me.

Overall, I think it's a bad idea to make the project at all determinate on people doing their part on time--make it so that everyone contributes individual pieces so that one latecomer/no-show doesn't bring the whole thing to its knees.
posted by DMan at 3:44 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm in for a short story. I think it'd be great to have a common theme or topic, maybe a couple of phrases or objects that need to be worked into it, and see how each of the writers runs with it!
posted by iamkimiam at 3:53 PM on December 12, 2007

It'd give me an excuse to get on the treadmill again, even at the expense of internet humiliation. If this MeFi rocket explodes, I'll set sail with it.
posted by absalom at 4:08 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm in on whatever format will encourage the most people to participate, but I must point out that there already exists that new MeFi Writers Group that reenum has tried to setup and which I have joined but not contributed to, placing me three days away from being forcibly unsubscribed...

If you're going to do something in a serialized "chain letter" style, I would recommend cutting it into smaller pieces than 'chapters', at least for the first go-around. Just don't expect it to emerge from the process as something very serious; this is an all-too-familiar format of comic improvisation.

Back in the '70s, my radio mentor "Sweet" Dick Whittington did a weekly bit he called "Let's All Write a Gothic Novel" which he started with an opening paragraph of tongue-in-cheek scene-setting, after which the other people at the station at the time (including a very serious-sounding newscaster with a wicked sense of humor, a playing-dumb technical engineer, an honestly dumb sportscaster, a traffic reporter from her helicopter, various interns and secretaries and myself) would one-by-one add a little to the story, then we would go to the phones where anyone with the nerve/guts to call in to the segment continued the story. Hilarity often (but not always) ensued (remember, this station was in suburban L.A. and some of the callers were most certainly WGA members) and throwaway non-sequiturs often became entirely new plots (the phrase "Meanwhile, in Alpha Centauri" was once uttered, and not by me). And after we either ran out of willing participants or time, it was Dick's responsibility to come up with something he could tack a "The End" onto, ranging from improvisational genius to a cheap throwaway line, depending on his mood. Good times.

I consciously attempted to recreate this phenomenon a couple years ago at MeFi's bastard step-sister MonkeyFilter (talk about a million monkeys...) and the results were, well, interesting. (Keep reading: it gets, if not more coherent, funnier as it gets going when doppelgangers with MoFi usernames mix it up with Lassie and King Kong).

So, yes, the first iteration of this MeFiWrite could be fully self-contained within a MetaTalk thread... like this one!

Of course, you probably want to do something completely different (with or without Monty Python references). And I know this isn't the room for an argument, this is the room for abuse.

Still, I wonder how many of you may feel an irresistible pull of creative temptation when you read...
It was a dark and stormy night, the rain falling in sheets because several of the neighbors had not taken down their bedding from the clotheslines in time. It was the kind of night you'd expect Sam Spade to take on another mystery, or at least go shopping at Sam's Club while Neil Diamond and Heart played on the in-store muzak. But Sam had never completed his last investigation into who came up with the word "muzak". Of course, he could have simply Googled it, but Sam was a man behind the times: he thought Google's first name was Barney and Wikipedia was one of the Teletubbies. He'd been told years ago that his surname "Spade" was racially insensitive, so he had it legally changed to that of another garden implement. And thus it was, on this stark and dormy night, that the door of the dormatory room of one Sam Hoe, sophomoric college freshman double-majoring in Criminal Science and Felonious Arts, would be subjected to a frantic knocking that turned into a panicky pounding, engaged in by a mysterious shadowy figure (because of all the burned out lightbulbs in the dorm hallway). A figure who turned out to be none other than... (dun dun dunnnnn!!!)...
posted by wendell at 4:13 PM on December 12, 2007

Is it wrong that this immediately made me think of Atlanta Nights?
posted by dizziest at 4:39 PM on December 12, 2007

Count in shakespeherian.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2007

I loved Thieve's world - and I generally hate "fantasy" - and I like writing within a framework.

So count me in. But know that I'm a flake and I hate working under obligations.
posted by loquacious at 5:04 PM on December 12, 2007

I'd contribute a short story to an anthology, if it's not too late to volunteer.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:07 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm in - heck, I need some sort of external motivation to get writing again. And I agree, short stories around a central world/theme/thingy is best, not least because it allows much greater flexibility on the number of participants, deadlines, etc.

I suggest the theme "An Alien Hooker in King Arthur's Court".
posted by flashboy at 5:09 PM on December 12, 2007

It was a dork and smarmy night...
posted by Hat Maui at 5:17 PM on December 12, 2007

"Yeah, you can suck my tentacle, big boy," she crooned to a bedazzled Arthur, "but it'll cost you."

Twenty credits, same as in the Magellanic Cluster.
posted by languagehat at 5:23 PM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

"I'd be interested in participating, regardless of the form."
posted by cortex at 9:00 AM on December 13

Then it's official! We'll do an Agent Howie sequel where Agent Cortex is still alive!

I kid, I kid (sorta... it does appeal!). But I'd love to have you on board cortex. Since I don't sing and can't play an instrument, this may be the only chance I ever get to collaborate with you on anything.

"I just cannot take the possibility that I wouldn't have control over it. I understand how the writing would work, but would each person edit the previous writer's work?"
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 9:01 AM on December 13

My personal opinion on that topic is no, once submitted, each persons words and story are sacrosanct. The only editing that would occur would be at the final stage of the work, once everyone has submitted their work, where a nominated editor would go through and look for spelling and/or grammatical errors that need fixing.

How to join this three hour cruise...

Brandon Blatcher has sent me a MeFi Mail saying he wants in. I think that this is a perfect way to officially join this collaboration, and is willing to make a firm commitment to this, send me a MeFi Mail saying as much, and your preference for short stories or a collected work. First come first served, and majority wins!

So at this stage it's cortex (if I may be so bold), Brandon and myself. Once we have the final participants and format locked in, I'll post the list here and then we can come up with settings for our work.

Also, I think I will make an executive decision limit the collaboration to 6 writers (7 max) to ensure each participant has enough time to write and fine tune and, well, live a normal life.

Mail away!
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:32 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm interested in joining the collaborative effort. Sounds like fun.
posted by tdismukes at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2007

One question: if everyone gets together on this, is there some plan to eventually make it available to print? How would that work, with all the various authors?

Sorry to sound so negative because I think it sounds like a fantastic idea, and I loved the Thieves World series (especially the Shadowspawn character).
posted by misha at 6:54 PM on December 12, 2007

Not so interested in contributing a chapter, somewhat interested in short stories around a theme, even more interested in a Thieves' World type arrangement. I even have a setting, if people are interested in near-future science fiction.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 7:00 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I even have a setting, if people are interested in near-future science fiction.

That would be my preference, actually.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:04 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Since there seems to be a great deal of interest in the Thieves World-type arrangement, i.e., probably more than the 6 or 7 collaborators Effigy2000 has capped the writing collaboration at, perhaps another collaborative effort could get going that focuses on creating and populating a fictional world. Like maybe a world where I own a flamethrower.
posted by logicpunk at 7:09 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm down, even though no one asked for me by name.

I think we should try this in the confines of a thread first. Maybe sequential comment-fables.
posted by Eideteker at 7:17 PM on December 12, 2007

The Miami Herald tried this several years ago. They asked several authors from South Florida to each contribute a chapter, which was published in their weekend magazine (and later as a book). The results were pretty entertaining. The Amazon Review:

"Dave Barry starts the madness in Naked Came the Manatee, introducing a 102-year-old environmentalist named Coconut Grove and a manatee saddled with one of Barry's favorite monikers, Booger. Carl Hiaasen closes down the party, and in between, 11 of Florida's literati, including Elmore Leonard, John Dufresne, and Edna Buchanan, make twisted offerings to the affair: three severed heads, all bearing a remarkable resemblance to Fidel Castro; four murders; some sex; some espionage; even an appearance by Jimmy Carter and one by Castro himself.

Originally published as a serial novel in the Miami Herald's Tropic magazine, Naked Came the Manatee resembles a literary game of telephone, with each writer contributing a chapter and passing it on to the next, who then makes the most of what he or she is given. The result is a novel with wildly fluctuating styles and more crazy plot curves than a daytime drama, but thanks to these 13 masters of the craft this roller coaster of a book is almost as much fun to read as it obviously was to write."
posted by sotalia at 7:19 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Thieves World idea sounds like great, and well suited to the writing potencial of MeFi. I personally like the idea of creatively working with constraints, since my attempts at writing have a tendency to devolve into unfocused craziness.

A whole world populated by the hive's subconscious sounds like a fun place to visit, I hope this can be made to work. Also, +1 for a near future setting.
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:45 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm not a writer in any kind of professional way, but I have been trying to write lately, and this would be good motivation. I'd love the chance to submit something to a shared-world type project, especially if there is some notion of constructive criticism and guidance involved. I am also intrigued by the near-future sci-fi idea, but someone would need to put together some kind of "World Bible" so we are all on the same technological page.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:00 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm working on a write-up of my setting. I'm fond of it, having put it together in my head quite a while ago but never having done anything with it, but I'm very open to working with others to alter it to suit the group.

I will drop a hint, however, and let you know that the setting involves a collaborative online community.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:25 PM on December 12, 2007

Is it Orkut? It's Orkut, isn't it?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:29 PM on December 12, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen... I present you with The Magnificent Seven.

Brandon Blatcher
It's Raining Florence Henderson
Rock Steady

I can't tell you how hard it was not accepting more of you, but I figure this needs to be capped at 7 if we're going to allow each writer enough time to create, write, fine tune and submit while all the time trying to live their lives away from the machine.

The preference seems to be for a short story anthology. I'm down with that, although I would personally prefer the concept of short stories set within a combined universe. I also like the idea of a near-future world. It appeals to my fiction preference, and would still be accessable enough for the average MeFite.

Everyone happy so far? Any ideas or suggestions that you'd like to contribute at this point?
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:31 PM on December 12, 2007

Sounds fun. I'll play.
posted by grumblebee at 8:32 PM on December 12, 2007

Oops. Maybe next time.
posted by grumblebee at 8:33 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm a little unclear on the benefit of limiting it to a small group. If it's everyone-collaborate-on-a-novel, then that makes sense. But if it's write-stories-set-in-a-particular-world, why not let everyone play?

I do think it makes sense to let a small group define the ground rules: what sort of world it is, etc. But once that's done, why not open the gates?
posted by grumblebee at 8:36 PM on December 12, 2007

Mind you, on second thought, if we're doing short stories that don't rely on a previous chapter to continue the story, I suppose its possible we could bump the number of contributors up to 12 or so...

On preview; exactly what grumblebee said.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:38 PM on December 12, 2007

Yeah - let's bump it up to a dozen or so.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:41 PM on December 12, 2007

Yeah, if we take it in the fixed-setting, short story direction, I can't see any reason not to at least make the "source book", so to speak, an open season sort of thing. Anybody on the Official Collaborate list is maybe held to a more stringent standard, and we can talk about possible ideas of continuity or common elements beyond just In The Setting, maybe, but letting folks in general jump in seems perfectly cromulent.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2007

As for the setting, I'm curious about Lore's idea.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:43 PM on December 12, 2007

It's 100 years in the future, and the MetaVerse has been invaded by the Cromulents...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:46 PM on December 12, 2007

Grrr. I still want to do this. I hate being a permanent resident of the C-list in a world where only A-listers have any fun.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:26 PM on December 12, 2007

I dig short stories in shared universe; near future is good, too - I've never written a near (or distant) future piece, so at the very least, it will be...interesting.
posted by rtha at 9:29 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm doing this, and you can't stop me, even if I don't make it to the cool kids list.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:43 PM on December 12, 2007

Okay, here it is, as succinct as I can make it:

Two years ago, in this setting's time, a group of students created Philosophical/Virtual Reality, which they quickly shortened to the cheeky nickname "P/Virt." They created it by building a machine that they claim generates a field of pure autocausality, which is to say free will. The machine and its field are not intelligent, they explain, so it can't exercise this free will, but it exists nonetheless.

A small subset of humanity is sensitive to this field. Within a P/Virt field, they are able to change the reality they see with their thoughts. However, these changes cannot survive contact with a non-sensitive observer. A sensitive might paint the white walls bright colors with her mind, but if a non-sensitive enters the room, they return to white.

However, the P/Virt reality is apparently shared by all sensitives. If a sensitive paints her walls and another sensitive walks in, the latter will see exactly the shapes and colors the former created. The effect, in essence, is that P/Virt sensitives build a second reality, one that only they can see, and even then only when alone with other sensitives.

The rarity of this sensitivity means that sensitives, or "P/Virts," as many call themselves, form their own community within the larger world. They gather in enclosed or deserted places and live a strange and vibrant life where imagination shapes reality and they can appear to be whoever they want. Some just visit, while others spend as much time as they can there, and consider the P/Virt reality more real than the real world.

Because the P/Virt reality is subject to imagination and whim, it's built by consensus. Should the abandoned warehouse be filled with wild grasses and exotic, placid animals, or should it be lined with red cushions and decorated with gold pillars? Questions like this are decided by a largely unconscious process of consensus where those with stronger feelings or more vivid imaginations have more sway. As a result, P/Virt reality is continuously shifting as the attention and desires of those in it shift.

That's the setting. I'm hoping there's room for a lot of stories here. What's it like to be new to this world? What's it like to be an old hand at it? What conflicts come up between the P/Virts and outsiders, or between P/Virts with different agendas? What reaction would the government, various religions, and other authorities have to it? And what would you, personally, do with a world where you can change whatever you want, at least in your private corner of it?

Obviously there needs to be a lot more behind it than this quick sketch, and there are a lot of potential paradoxes to be ironed out -- or perhaps left in place. If this is a setting people can get into, I think it would be fun, and amusingly self-referential, to set this up as a wiki to flesh it out collaboratively before writing our own individual stories.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 10:11 PM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

So, basically, we've got holodecks that operate according to the thoughts of the sensitives in real time instead of through programming, and the wills of the strongest, or of the majority, rule. Hmm. Some interesting implications.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:50 PM on December 12, 2007

If the group decides to go this way, I think I'll go for an affectionate neo-noir mashup of It's a Good Life (from The Twilight Zone), The Matrix, and We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. Because how long would it take before someone weaponized the thing?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:04 PM on December 12, 2007

why not just let anyone submit and you can pick the best stories?
posted by empath at 11:43 PM on December 12, 2007

I'm still quite fond of the idea of doing a single story where everybody contributes a chapter.

But I also like the short story anthology.

Can't we do both?
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:44 AM on December 13, 2007

Hey! What did you call me?
posted by Jofus at 1:20 AM on December 13, 2007

Hey! Why didn't someone wake me up for this?
posted by Jofus at 1:25 AM on December 13, 2007

Hey! Robocop is bleeding isn't on the list either? Harumph! Count me in for round two though!
posted by Jofus at 1:26 AM on December 13, 2007

You could run it kind of like an old newspaper serial, with a different author responsible for each episode.

Of course, everybody would have to agree beforehand on character ground rules and basic style, but it could work!
posted by generichuman at 1:27 AM on December 13, 2007

Huh. That'll learn me to sleep at night!

I'm not sure what version Effigy's pursuing, but if folks want to chase the 'short stories around a theme' idea, I'd be happy to organize.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:43 AM on December 13, 2007

It's pretty harsh to change the participation rule to mailing in (what was for me) the middle of the night, and then cap the number at seven rather than 12. I was really enthusiastic about this & pleased to have caught the thread early enough to join in - what a disappointment to wake up to.
posted by WPW at 2:49 AM on December 13, 2007

robocop is bleeding: "I'm not sure what version Effigy's pursuing, but if folks want to chase the 'short stories around a theme' idea, I'd be happy to organize."

I'm now officially interested in both versions. This is because I'm interested in writing more than I currently do.

I think a short story anthology would be lots of fun, and could easily be knocked out within a six month period.

I also think a single story collaboration would also be lots of fun. One author creates a character and scene, another builds on it, plays with those characters and the setting, the next flips all of it on its head... it'd be mad but the end result could be exciting! But I think it would take 12 months for such a thing to be crafted and fine tuned, but I'm totally up for just such a challenge.

So if robocop is bleeding wants to organise a short story anthology, I'm totally in.

But whoever is interested in writing a chapter of a full length novel, send me a MeFi Mail saying as such, and we'll work something out.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:53 AM on December 13, 2007

What the hell are you people doing up at this pre-asscrack of dawn tainted hour? I thought that was my personal punishment for a past life poorly lived.

Anyways, it's not my goal to step on Effigy's toes. I understand how crafting a novel between multiple parties requires small numbers and a firm grip. Otherwise the logistics would be a nightmare.

I figure more writers, the better, so if you're interested in contributing to an anthology, please consider yourself invited. If Effigy doesn't mind, we can use this thread to hash out some ideas regarding unifying themes. My goal is simplicity - as an initial effort a simple theme or concept may be easier to hang a slew of stories on than a more involved setting.

A quick pre-breakfast sketch of how this would play out would be:

Step 1 - let people know about a Mefi Fiction Anthology (Status: Underway!)
Step 2 - Hash out a theme/unifying concept (Status: Pending - goal date, next week sometime?)
Step 3 - Let interested parties register their interest. I figure the selection of theme may self-select some people out - if you really want to write a story about loves labors lost but everyone else is focused on a comedy of errors, then there's no shame in giving a pass to forcing a round peg into a square hole. (Status: Pending - goal date 1/1/08?)
Step 4 - Start writing! (Status: Terrifying - goal six weeks after start?)
Step 5 - Submit story, maybe do a swap for revisions/editing?
Step 6 - Milk it! Post'em, self-publish'em, record'em for the podcast, make a t-shirt, option a movie, whichever!

posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:01 AM on December 13, 2007

Effigy2000: Aliens, hookers, drugs, a combination of them all...

You misspelled "zombies".
posted by loiseau at 4:03 AM on December 13, 2007


Awareness - maybe if we asked very nicely, a little note about this might crop up in the sidebar?

Theme - I wonder if a week's too short a time for this? Also, would this be something better done off-site, maybe on one of those newfangled wiki things we hear so much about these days. I'd imagine it'll require a fair bit of back and forth and suchlike, not just about what idea we should use but also how specific/broad we want it. For example, I really like L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg's idea, but I wonder if it's a little too restrictive in its precision - do we maybe want something a bit more high-concept (e.g. "In a world with kittens, an disparate group of rebels struggle to keep the Last Kitten On Earth out of the hands of the government")?

I suspect that a certain level of dictatorial unilateralism will be necessary on robocop's part when it comes to settling on a firm theme...
posted by flashboy at 4:16 AM on December 13, 2007

I am in total agreement with robocop is bleeding - and will now remain quiet while the theme is selected in order that I don't queer the results by demanding a theme of "Posts to MeTa in the style of PG Wodehouse".

Pip pip!
posted by Jofus at 4:17 AM on December 13, 2007

One thing: From the point of view of the end result (i.e. a bunch of short stories set around single theme) I think we'll get the best result if we set some formal constraints around the theme - rather than just writing whatever the hell we want around a single word theme.

For me (and I *am* a hidebound reactionary so make of this what you will), the stricter the "form" of the excercise, the more interesting the results will be as we all find exciting ways of stretching, breaking and bending those rules.
posted by Jofus at 4:22 AM on December 13, 2007

For the love of god can we just start writing already???!!! *hands twitch at the crackboard*
posted by Eideteker at 4:24 AM on December 13, 2007

Well, I'd be taking the theme from the This American Life model. I figure they've been hanging different stories off a quick phrase or word for awhile now, so they must be on to something.

Pre-breakfast, post-coffee brainstorm samples:

Power Overwhelming
Love Labors Last
A Word, Misheard

Or we could just use a single word concept:


Or we could demand that everyone pick a Mefi post at random and use that to inspire them. Or the title of a Springsteen song. Or whatever.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:29 AM on December 13, 2007

I'm down with the short story theme.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:29 AM on December 13, 2007

No, Eideteker - we must ponder this plate of beans more! Well, that and I'd like more input before I exercise my "dictatorial unilateralism."

Taking Jofus' input to heart and becoming more enamored with the TAL set up, I expand:

Power Overwhelming - Stories in which a character experiences Power, real power, over a situation, people, or self.
Love Labors Last - Stories that end with a kiss.
A Word, Misheard - Stories where complications arise over the misunderstanding of a single word.
Devils in the Details - Stories featuring a character who may well be the Devil - be it Satan, a slicked-hair tycoon, or an exgirlfriend.
Triumph of the Bill - Stories where a Bill (of any sort) wins.

So two questions: The First - Does this theme format make sense? The Second - Have any theme ideas of your own?

Actual words-on-the-page format-wise, we'll cap things at 5000 words.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:39 AM on December 13, 2007

I'll participate in both projects, if invited to do so.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:35 AM on December 13, 2007

I gotta say, I think Lore's setting is really goddam compelling. It's restrictive in the specificity of the premise, but there is pretty much nothing requiring the premise to be a dominant role in the story. Someone could easily write a near-future political vignette where P/Virt is aught but mentioned in campaign attack ads; or a high fantasy romp with only the shyest acknowledgment of the P/Virt mechanic driving this otherwise fantastic interaction; or any shade between. It's a wonderful touchstone for story-telling, and I don't think all that restrictive if taken with an open mind.

I'm not married to it or anything, and I'm game with whatever we go for, but the P/Virt idea has a lot of meat, I think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:48 AM on December 13, 2007

Well, I'm still interested in participating in something (anything!), really. These things always seem to catch fire, and it's always the Usual Suspects who get to play in the playground. I'll be over here kicking rocks and wiping snot on my sleeve.

The very first writer's collaboration I remember here, I believe, started with the "start with the same word" idea. Personally, I'd like some unifying thread a little stronger than that, but I'd just be happy to take part in some way, shape, or form.
posted by absalom at 7:04 AM on December 13, 2007

At the risk of sucking up to Cortex, which I'm sure I've done enough of in the past, I agree with his comment above. Lore's setting provides a pleasing consistency but sufficient malleability within the concept itself (you have literally any kind of constructed reality you want to use, with the benefit of a background that holds true) that any kind of story you might want to tell could fit in. I like the idea of a "Thieves' World" approach and also agree that it's restrictive without being restrictive - providing continuity without enforcing editorial control.

Full disclosure: I just got back from xmas lunch, so this could just be the wine talking.
posted by Sparx at 7:06 AM on December 13, 2007

I like Lore's setting as well (and already have a few ideas), but get the sense that it'll need more warm up time (wikis, setting hashing, etc) before it gets going. Remembering the Literary Review interactive lexicon that we started some time ago, I'm concerned that we'd burn ourselves out on the setting and concept building and not the actual writing. I'm also concerned about the barrier to entry in signing on to an established/negotiated SciFi setting.

But maybe that's me being enamored with the TAL format, I dunno. It seems to me that we could have more people writing if we say "Write a story addressing ________" than "Write a story that acknowledges this background material." Though this could be 6 of one, half dozen of the other.

Of course, there's no reason we can't do both. If we pick a TAL-style theme that plays well with Lore's P/Virse then writers can have an option to set their stories there if they like. If we do make it to the self-publishing stage, we could even arrange the two varieties of stories so as to make sense.

I have muchos MeFi Mail from folks interested, the bulk of which are just interested in getting back in the habit of writing.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2007


- 1/01/08? Seriously? I think I may not have enough time to make it by then. This is my peak season at work, and my kids will be home from school. I might have a heart attack by the time Christmas hits, never mind the actual due date.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 8:07 AM on December 13, 2007

I think that's the proposed start date, mitzy. Like, agree-on-what-we're-doing target.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:08 AM on December 13, 2007

get the sense that it'll need more warm up time

Not necessarily. That plate of beans need not be overthunk. So long as you have a set skeleton or "series bible" or whatever you want to call it - you should be able to build whatever flesh you need. I think even Lore's snapshot above would work sufficiently - though it's his baby so he may want to polish it some.

E.g., You shouldn't necessarily have to know who becomes president 20 years in the future, but if you include that detail in your story, you could add it to a wiki so that other people can use it as a growing reference for additional continuity if required. I suspect that for short stories, especially, such details would either be very particular to the individual narrative, or not essential to the story itself (if someone has Iran having been nuked as a necessary plotpoint, there are a range of other options for 'villianous foreigners'), if you catch my drift. Showstopping lack of overlap should be easily preventable by a bit of give and take - so long as the core is consistent. A bit of post-production tweaking is going to be inevitable anyway.
posted by Sparx at 8:24 AM on December 13, 2007

Jesus H. Christ in a sidecar, I knew I should've fired up the internets last night. You folks are just so fast with the typin'.

I like both ideas - the short story one, and the attempt at a collaborative novel. I would be interesting in participating in both, if people want me. I can't keep track of who's organizing what anymore. I've sent MeFiMail to everyone who I think is organizing anything.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:35 AM on December 13, 2007

Last night, I wasn't sure I was wild about Lore's idea. But this morning when I woke up I was dreaming about it, sort of, I think - not that I can remember any details right now, of course - so it seems to have burrowed its way into my subconscious.

I agree that some wiki-ing and scene-setting will be necessary, but I also, like robocop, fear that that will become an excellent way to put off actually starting the durn story. Is there some way we can engineer some sort of cutoff date for the scene-setting process?
posted by rtha at 8:39 AM on December 13, 2007

So if I want to be in on the short story compilation, what exactly do I need to do?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:45 AM on December 13, 2007

Urf, Sparx brings up points I hadn't even thought of - trying to get everyone's stories to "mesh" in continuity!

Lore's idea is a good one and I encourage folks to get a wiki together to hash out setting details, but I think I'm going to use my fiat to set the short story as a theme based. Sorry if this disappoints anyone. For the first effort, I want to get as many people writing as possible. Next round we can do P/Vert once folks have loosened up their fingers some.

So for the time being, if you want to participate in the short story anthology, simply watch this thread and contribute ideas as to theme. If someone can pitch a theme that multiple folks rally around, then I'll use my dread power to make it so.

Once we have a theme and a time frame, I'll hit up the mods for a sidebar or something.

posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:59 AM on December 13, 2007

I like what cortex had to say about the P/Virt idea not having to be front-and-center. I'm interested in exploring the idea from the inside, personally, but I'm also interested in seeing what people would do with it from the outside.

I also like Sparx's idea, that we don't need to have all the answers before we start. It would be neat to somehow compare notes while we're writing, either by saying "I have Marvin Bush as president, just a heads up" or "I need someone as president, any ideas?"

While I'm posting and other people are thinking, let me throw out a couple more thoughts on the setting.

One important concept to me is that the changes to P/Virt reality are persistent. Say you enter a public park when nobody's around, fire up your P/Virt machine, and make all the trees grow tarot cards instead of leaves. If another P/Virt comes by later, again when nobody is around, and slips into P/Virt reality, that person will see your tarot trees. It's like you're creating another reality under the "real world," one that can only be seen by certain people under certain circumstances. A secret world.

Secondly, and I haven't worked this one through in my head yet, I don't want it to be quite as simple as the holodeck. My thought is that it takes a certain capacity for imagination to alter Philosophical/Virtual reality, and some people are better at it than others. At the same time, more people can gang up to override the preferences of someone with a stronger will. I want to explore the question of what happens when the people who have the best ideas aren't always the same people who have the ability to make them come to pass.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2007

The theme can and should be broad and simple, I think. I propose:

Extra-terrestrial life discovered.
posted by Mister_A at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2007

^^^Short-story theme^^^
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on December 13, 2007

I have to say I'm intrigued by Sjoberg's idea. In order to use it, we do have to set some ground rules about the technology and how it works - but I think we can do that with four or five rules, to still allow it to be played with.

But I also understand the point that robocop is bleeding has.

It's like I have this bizarre virtual reality device that allows me to see two different possible existences at the same time...
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:17 AM on December 13, 2007

As bad as my writing is, I'd love to participate in a Thieves' World, r i b, L.F S approach.

It allows for plenty of creativity within a contextual and constrained format, and removes the killing-me-slowly-inside-with-the-pressure deadline of having to complete a chapter before someone else can begin work on theirs.

Though I have a limited pallet, so hookers, aliens, and drugs will probably play a part in my story, regardless of the pre-defined universe.
posted by quin at 9:32 AM on December 13, 2007

N-thing Lore's P/Virt universe. I'd definitely be interested in playing there.
posted by logicpunk at 9:52 AM on December 13, 2007

I think Lore, RIB, and E2K should get together and figure out who's in charge of what, otherwise none of this will ever come to pass. Executive decisions a la RIB's a few posts up are needed.
posted by Mister_A at 10:04 AM on December 13, 2007

Hmph. Not up for a collaborative novel, because I'm already working on one. With a fellow Mefite, in fact. (Paraliptically, I have no intention of embarrassing him here by pointing out that it's his turn and he's really, really late. As in months late.)

But I'll gladly contribute a story to spec.
posted by tangerine at 10:27 AM on December 13, 2007

I like the "Thieves World" approach, and I like Lore's setting for the stories.
posted by tdismukes at 11:05 AM on December 13, 2007

A few ideas for Lore's World:

- The derogatory for P/Virt will of course be "Pervert."

- Personal portable units should be weak, essentially allowing an average P/Virt to assume their avatar in public (when no normals are around). They can also be used to tag reality in small ways purely for the amusement of their fellow P/Virts.

- Although P/Virt tallent varies, P/Virts might fall naturally into two general classes: Intuitives and Adepts. Intuitives can see the P/Virt world when in the presence of a P/Virt field, and can alter the landscape, but without much conscious direction. Most n00bs are Intuitives. Because they have more power than control, they are constantly - and mostly inadvertantly - breaking the mores and conventions of the P/Virt community. Adepts are the artists and architects of the P/Virt world, capable of fine control. Not all Intuitives become Adepts, and strength of ability does not correlate to either class of P/Virt.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2007

Well, there's enough interest that I'm going to set up a Wiki. If enough MeFites get involved that we can get a nice anthology going, that's great. If not many people get involved, I'll open it up to the larger world and see if the Web as a whole wants to work with me. If still nobody gets involved, I'll just write stuff myself. Yay options!

I'd also like to contribute to the theme anthology, if everyone settles on one. Apart from a couple very short comic narratives, it's been a long time since I pulled on my fiction boots.

Point of procedure: Assuming it's going to take me a couplefew days to pull it together, where's the Metappropriate place for me to announce the Wiki? This thread? New MetaTalk thread? Projects?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 11:36 AM on December 13, 2007

I'd follow up in this thread and make a Projects post, Sjoberg. And also call me on the phone so we can discuss it excitedly and giggle like schoolgirls. I've got a dozen fucking ideas.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:39 AM on December 13, 2007

I think you should post here... not everyone goes to projects.

So we now have THREE distinct projects running? Is that right? Cool.
posted by Mister_A at 11:41 AM on December 13, 2007

I've got a dozen fucking ideas.

Naturally. P/Virt pr0n will be mind-blowing... literally!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:49 AM on December 13, 2007

This thread will work for everybody I've seen commenting so far, I think, L. They all seem to be MetaTalk denizens and know how Recent Activity works. (I am interested in this, but I'm not interested in being a disappointment by not doing the work I say I will do, so I'm aw-shucksing in parentheses.)
posted by cgc373 at 11:55 AM on December 13, 2007

I'm catching up after 20 hours out of the conversation, but frankly, there wasn't much I could add to all the good ideas put forth.

Sign me up as another P/Virt; it sounds like a universe into which I can drop a couple of neurotic/creative characters and get all kinds of unintended consequences, and IRFH's additions show just how awesome it could all be.

The "theme-based" (or "This American Life-Style") is good, but the MeFite who's trying a Writer's Group is already using it and I frankly blanked out on his first theme. And if may I critique robocop is bleeding's specific themey suggestions:
Power Overwhelming - "With great power comes great temptation to get into Stan Lee superhero crap"
Love Labors Last - the kind of paperback romances that went out of style when women started appreciating pr0n and the bodices started ripping
A Word, Misheard - every episode of "Three's Company" ever aired
Devils in the Details - it's way too easy to write an antagonist who is Pure Unnuanced Evil
Triumph of the Bill - Clinton, Gates, O'Reilly... but "Schoolhouse Rock" already made the definitive statement on this theme
But then, the real challenge is to use such a theme in a NON-obvious NON-clichéd way. Or maybe I'm overthinking a plate of beans.

Or maybe "overthinking a plate of beans" (or anything with both Overthinking and Beans) or some other MetaFilter InJoke could be the theme... something that specifically says this is a collection by members of MetaFilter.

Examples: "Is this something you need a [fill in blank] to have heard of?"
"Can I have a pony?"
"We have cameras."
"Where I'm a Viking."
"There is no cabal."

Or we could just call the collaboration the MetaFilter NoCabal.
posted by wendell at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2007

Gosh, you guys are so gay.

posted by Skygazer at 1:14 PM on December 13, 2007

So we're going with MetaFilter SlashFic starring It's Raining Florence Henderson and robocop is bleeding?
there is so much wrong in that sentence...
posted by wendell at 1:20 PM on December 13, 2007

intrigued and interested. commenting to keep track of this.
posted by ejaned8 at 1:26 PM on December 13, 2007

So we're going with MetaFilter SlashFic starring It's Raining Florence Henderson and robocop is bleeding?

*claws eyes out*

*reconsiders...it could be hot hot hot!*

*reinserts eyes*

posted by rtha at 2:21 PM on December 13, 2007

OK, so while most of the discussion here has centred on the short story anthology, I've been busy gathering my forces for the Full length collaborative novel project. And I now have my team. May I present to you...

The Knowledgeable Nine.*

It's Raining Florence Henderson
never used baby shoes

I decided to go with a team of nine because on reflection, I realised that although it shortens the time frame each writer has to write their contribution and still make a Christmas 2008 deadline, it does result in the ability for each writer to write a shorter chapter. So it's a bit of a trade off, I guess.

Plus there was a lot of interest and a lot of enthusiasm for the project from these guys, and I couldn't bring myself to say no to a writer who wants to write as much as they did.

So as I said in the e-mails I sent out, it's now time to start thinking of story ideas. Ideally I would like the first writer to be able to start writing in the new year. I think if each writer then took a month to write their contribution, we could have a first draft of the finished novel in September or October next year. This would then give an editor a couple of months to edit and review our work for the Christmas deadline.

Any thoughts on the setting, subject and process I've described above are valued, either here in the thread or via MeFi Mail.

* Stupid group name totally open to change,
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:42 PM on December 13, 2007

IRFH r.i.b.bed for our pleasure.
posted by cgc373 at 2:43 PM on December 13, 2007

O, rtha, Y E2K q U? Y O Y? U R rtha!
posted by cgc373 at 2:45 PM on December 13, 2007

My god, but I need to shut up already.
posted by cgc373 at 2:45 PM on December 13, 2007

Yeah, so the baby snow angel Jesus dumped 3.2 tons of snow outside, so I've been trudging and shoveling.

It looks like despite my trepidations, most folks seem okay with the P/Virt idea. Or at least, more people seem to feel strongly about that one than other options. Since Lore is gonna start putting up info anyways and I'd hate for the short fiction anthology splinter group to splinter still-yet-more, I'll rescind my previous fiat and re-fiat with P/Virt.

Lore - Can you pick a small group of like minded folks to get the setting/technology/etc information together by the 1st? If so, I can revise the timeline.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:41 PM on December 13, 2007

O, rtha, Y E2K q U? Y O Y? U R rtha!

posted by rtha at 3:48 PM on December 13, 2007

A stupid joke: Effigy2000 typed rthq for your name on the list above, and I typed in semi-coherent SMS-speak Oh, rtha, why did Effigy2000 put a "q" in your name? Why, oh why? You are rtha!
posted by cgc373 at 4:03 PM on December 13, 2007

The first of January? No, not with the holidays and all. Also, I wasn't going to pick a crack squad of world-builders, I was going to set up a Wiki and see how it evolves. If it turns into stagnation or chaos, I'll rethink it.

I do think that we're better off painting broad strokes to begin with, and let the tiny little details evolve from the actual writing. If politics is important to someone, for instance, better to write a political story than to create an in-depth outline of the balance of power in each state legistature.

Why are we having a deadline? Just to keep it from falling apart from inattention?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 4:08 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would honestly love to work in some sort of collaboration around a central, if distant, concept or setting. It's something I've wanted to do for awhile, but don't really have the social circle to jump in. If there is a short list, please let me know who is on it so I can kill them and take their spot. Lore's hook is interesting enough, but I think a wiki would be essential in order that interested writers could keep up with the metaverse without having to read each other's stories (Which might not even need be completed.)
posted by absalom at 4:24 PM on December 13, 2007

A stupid joke: Effigy2000 typed rthq for your name on the list above, and I typed in semi-coherent SMS-speak Oh, rtha, why did Effigy2000 put a "q" in your name? Why, oh why? You are rtha!

*lightbulb goes on*

One of these days, I'm going to hire someone who is not as ancient as I am to teach me SMS speak. Thank you for the translation!
posted by rtha at 4:29 PM on December 13, 2007

Ayup. Strike while the iron is hot and all that.

As for the setting stuff, I didn't mean that we needed a fully formed world or anything. Sorry if I was brusque - achy from shoveling and a bit loopy from my medicinal rum and cokes. What we could use, though, is a definitive statement about the P/Vert device and such. Not politics or who's the president or anything, but an expanded version of your first comment on the subject detailing the details of the macguffin.

So skipping the site is fine - I just think it'd be helpful to have a few paragraphs on the device well all be hanging our stories off of.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:30 PM on December 13, 2007

Yeah, I think some broad brushstroking of the P/Virtiverse (???) would be useful and good, and we can hammer out details either as we go, or in the early days of the new year.

robocop - advil, a hot bath, and hot toddies were my personal solution to shoveling snow and scraping ice. My Worst Blizzard Experience saw me shoveling every hour or so, just to keep up. That sucked. Now I live in coastal CA, so I don't have to bother with the shoveling or scraping...not that I'd give up the solution, though.
posted by rtha at 4:34 PM on December 13, 2007

Okay, how's this, then; I have a specific set of ideas in my head. I'll get them up on a Wiki over the weekend. At that point, if we want to set everyone loose on it for a couple weeks, I'll swoop in and resolve any conflicts on or about January 1, and the rule can be that whatever we have at that point is what we have to work with, and future modification or detail-adding can come as part of actual writing.

Will that work for those who want to do this thing?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 5:00 PM on December 13, 2007

Sounds like a blast, sir.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:10 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Works for me... Let's Get Weady to Wiki!!!
posted by wendell at 5:24 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

As for the single story collaborative model, I'm aiming to KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid!). No blogs, wiki's or whatever. Just MS Word and an e-mail account will be needed.

The way I see things (and chime in if you disagree), all we need is a single story hook to get us started. No complex back stories, no established characters to begin with; just something as simple as Mister_A's concept of 'Extra-terrestrial life is discovered.'

From there, the only other thing is working out who gets to tell the first part of the story and in what order those who follow shall go. Firm deadlines for each writer will also need to be established at this point.

After that, we write! The first author hands in his work to all the other writers involved in the project on or before the established deadline. This allows not only the second writer to start their part of the story, but allows all the others down the line to start thinking about how they will advance the story long before they actually write it. This process continues as the second author hands in his work on or before the established deadline, and so on and so forth.

In the ensuing literary chaos fun that follows, characters will grow, die, be vapourised, travel back and forth in time, become gods, kill presidents and do whatever else we can think of. The sky is the limit. The point is to make it fun. No bitching about "You killed my character!" or "I wish you hadn't done x because now I can't do z"... the sky is the limit.

Assuming all goes well, we could have a first draft of the finished story by September or October 2008. Then we chose an editor, with a view to eventually releasing the final book on Christmas Day 2008.

Assuming we're all happy with this approach, we all just need a story. I think Mister_A's concept is perfect in its simplicity for the start of the project, and am happy to endorse it as our starting point, unless anyone else wants to suggest something, in which case do it now!

I'm also happy to take first place on the roster, unless someone else is itching to do so, meaning I would have to turn in my chapter on January 31st. I'm also happy for me to assign people to a spot on the roster with a deadline, unless anyone has any objections to this.

Let me know!
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:25 PM on December 13, 2007

Sounds like a plan.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:55 PM on December 13, 2007

A plan indeed. I definitely don't want to go first, but someone else setting a deadline for me is a good good thing. And I like the idea, too - lots of possibilities there - though I'm not opposed to going with something else if something else equally or more interesting is proposed.
posted by rtha at 6:13 PM on December 13, 2007

That sounds pretty wild and wooly, Effigy. The results should be interesting.
posted by absalom at 6:39 PM on December 13, 2007

Can anyone summarise this thread for the ADHD-afflicted among us? Because it seems like all kinds of awesome happened but it's practically my bedtime.
posted by Eideteker at 6:56 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Can anyone summarise this thread for the ADHD-afflicted among us? Because it seems like all kinds of awesome happened but it's practically my bedtime."
posted by Eideteker at 12:56 PM on December 14

Previously, on MetaTalk Thread 15445...

Effigy2000 suggested a writers collaboration where a group of writers would create a single story, chapter by chapter. Many people liked the idea of the collaboration, but several dissented from the single story approach. A new faction was born; a faction where an anthology of short stories on a single theme would be written.

Effigy2000 decided that he still thought his original idea was worth persuing, but loved the idea of an anthology of single stories so much that he decided to do both. robocop is bleeding stepped boldly into the fray and took the lead on the short story anthology while Effigy2000 assembled a mighty group of warriors who would create a novel which would surely rival War & Peace.

Next week, on MetaTalk Thread 15445...

Well, within the next few hours probably, Effigy2000 will post a roster of who will write which chapter of the single story project, along with deadlines. Following this, his mighty band of warriors may accept this roster, or they may wish to change their place in the queue depending on their real-world plans for 2008. The story hook will be "Extra Terrestrial Life is Found", given that no-one has thus far objected to that premise.

Also, no doubt, robocop is bleeding will issue forth more of his strategy for creating Metafilter's first and probably best short story anthology.

Did I miss anything?
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:21 PM on December 13, 2007

Oh, the start date is 1/01/08 - that's workable. And I'm one of the Magnificent Seven, or however many there actually are now! Please disregard the fact that I totally skimmed the thread before I responded, and I'm in.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 8:27 PM on December 13, 2007

Ok, here's the writing and deadline roster. Let me know if you want to be moved and I will see what we can do... no guarantees though!

Chapter One: Effigy2000 (Deadline: January 31st, 2008)
Chapter Two: WPW (Deadline: March 2nd, 2008)
Chapter Three: Mister_A (Deadline: April 3rd, 2008)
Chapter Four: cortex (Deadline: May 4th, 2008)
Chapter Five: It's Raining Florence Henderson (Deadline: June 5th, 2008)
Chapter Six: rtha (Deadline: July 6th, 2008)
Chapter Seven: never used baby shoes (Deadline: August 7th, 2008)
Chapter Eight: croutonsupafreak (Deadline: September 8th, 2008)
Chapter Nine: Eideteker (Deadline: October 9th, 2008)

I think that's all right. Again, let me know if anyone has any objections, comments or ideas they want to contribute at this juncture.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:31 PM on December 13, 2007

Oh, great. No pressure or anything.

I'm reminded of the title of the final installment of a serial I was writing awhile back: Dénouement? You Want Dénouement? Alright, Here's Your Freaking Dénouement.

Just say it: dénouement. day nooo maaaahhhhwwwwnhhhh
posted by Eideteker at 5:00 AM on December 14, 2007

oh crap...shot myself in the foot again.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 5:23 AM on December 14, 2007

So, I'm confused. Is the short story project that Mr. Bleeding is on top of the one that follows Lore's concept, or is it the one about a theme?
posted by absalom at 5:37 AM on December 14, 2007

I believe it's set in my world, which someone cleverly called the P/Virse. I'm going to seed the world, people are going to pound on it for a couple weeks, then we turn everything over to robocop to crack the literary whip.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 5:58 AM on December 14, 2007

Guys, all I can say is 3 is my lucky number. This bodes well. Also, whenever I say "All I can say", it's BS because I can keep saying and saying and saying for a very long time. Anyway, yes. This is cool. I am going to send everyone on the list my email via MeFiMail, but first I have to do some actual work :)
posted by Mister_A at 6:26 AM on December 14, 2007

Also, is Lore's concept reminding anyone else of the Ideal Gas law?

Yeah, I thought not.
posted by Eideteker at 6:29 AM on December 14, 2007

Lore: Fantastic. I honestly didn't think much of the premise at first, but last night I was stricken with the tandum of insomnia and inspiration and now I've decided there is a story in the P/Virse that I need to tell after all. Lurvly.
posted by absalom at 6:54 AM on December 14, 2007

Lore - Sounds good on this end! Let me know when things are if not ready for prime time, at least ready for the dinner hour and I'll do up an announcement MeTa post to remind/rally writers.

Everyone Else - No need to worry about sign-ups or "spots" or anything. If you want to start writing when the P/Virse is firmed up, please feel free! I'll send out Mefi mails reminding folks once the start time nears.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:30 AM on December 14, 2007

Just a heads up to the Knowledgeable Knine (tee-hee!): I sent you all a MEFI mail w/my email address. Seems like group emails will be a good way to keep in touch on this, as long as we stick to significant updates...
posted by Mister_A at 8:01 AM on December 14, 2007

Huh. Six is my lucky number. Eeenteresting.
posted by rtha at 8:05 AM on December 14, 2007

I have added the Nine as contacts; if any of y'all don't have email addresses in your profiles, or if they're ones you never check, will you mefimail the rest of us with your One, True email address? The one in my profile is good.

Also, I would like to not that never used baby shoes is 7 of 9. Hmmm.
posted by rtha at 8:24 AM on December 14, 2007

And I'm lucky number 7. The timing of it looks god to me; I also didn't want to be the beginning or the end. I can muddle in the middle.

I will follow Mister_A's lead and MeFi Mail everyone my email address; I was thinking of suggesting a Google group, but it probably would just add an extra layer of admin to this that we don't need.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:27 AM on December 14, 2007

err, good. Not god. Not at all.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:28 AM on December 14, 2007

I would like to note, that is. If there's anything worse than a writer who doesn't proofread, it's an editor who doesn't prrofread. I should know.
posted by rtha at 8:33 AM on December 14, 2007

Before everyone starts dreaming about me based on rtha's comment; I would like to note for the record the following differences between myself and 7 of 9:

-I have never been part of the Borg collective;
-I have never served on a starship lost on the other side of the galaxy;
-I do not tend to wear form fitting clothing;
-I am male.

rtha and I will now continue exchanging typos. Just to give everyone confidence in our writing abilities.

that error in proofread was intentional, right, rtha?
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:38 AM on December 14, 2007

error? what err....Oh. That one. Shit.

Yeah, it was, because I am often devastated by my own cleverness. Others are often just devastated. It was a typo that I went back and corrected, and then went back again and uncorrected, because hey, I still don't have quite enough caffeine in me and I crack myself up. And now I'm babbling, and it's bagel day here at work, and some vendor dropped off a truckload of See's candy as a holiday present to the office yesterday, so I think I will go acquire a bagel, some coffee, and some chocolate. Woo!
posted by rtha at 9:02 AM on December 14, 2007

Ijust want to say that I'm still also interested in the P/Virse. And that the e-mail in my profile is indeed valid.
posted by Eideteker at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2007

I would just like to add that the roster looks great and thus far I am extremely happy with arrangements.
posted by WPW at 2:37 PM on December 14, 2007

I think I mefi-mailed all the other book people with my real, extra-special e-mail address.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:41 PM on December 14, 2007

Okay, persons who are watching this thread: the P/Virt Wiki is up and running. As far as I know, you should be able to register and edit freely. I'm going to go get some breakfast and check this thread again, and if everything is hunky and/or dory, I'll go announce it in Projects.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:50 AM on December 17, 2007

Two questions have occurred to me.

1. Do P/Virts know when they're looking at reality vs. P/Vision? Is it possible to hide something or trick someone with it?

2. Can we have a word for "showing, rather than telling" among P/Virts? I was thinking 'P/Verb'. Like:

SUE. Oh my gosh, what happened to you, John? You look like hell.

JOHN. You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Here, lemme P/Verb it for you. *replays the events visually*

If I'm understanding the concept correctly, sensitives will have something like a limited telepathy when normals aren't around. I'm picturing the sort of psychovisual conversation in The Demolished Man, and it's very exciting.
posted by Eideteker at 9:44 AM on December 17, 2007


Also, go to the p/Virt Wiki.

And even more also, a note to The Numinous Nine: Please send your email address to everyone on the list (via MeFiMail), if you have not already done so.
posted by Mister_A at 11:02 AM on December 18, 2007

Do check out the wiki. It's good stuff.

Do my Numinous cohorts really need an email from me? I'm pretty thoroughly contactable, but I can fire off the mefi mails if that's helpful somehow.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2007

Also happy to fire off mefimails, but the email in my profile is good.
posted by rtha at 12:21 PM on December 18, 2007

OK, if your profile email is good, we'll use that. Feels like we should kick around some themes, no? Effigy2000 is s'posed to start writing in a hot second...
posted by Mister_A at 7:04 AM on December 19, 2007

Did we not decide the Nine are writing on the theme/issue/setting/hook of "Extra Terrestrial Life is Found"?

One hook to rule them all, One hook to find them
One hook to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the threads of MeFi where the Posters sigh
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:23 PM on December 19, 2007

I've just sent the first group e-mail out to members of the single novel project. Check your e-mails!
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:05 PM on December 19, 2007

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