I have a great idea for a novel. You know what would make it even better?…
For all my adult life, I’ve thought of myself as an aspiring writer, but one thing or another has gotten in the way of producing a publishable, long-form piece of fiction: time, motivation, whatever.
So I hit on the idea that a lot of people are like me. They think of themselves as potential writers, but don’t really write anything, because it takes too much time commitment. Now, if I provide a place where people who have an interest can drop in any time, contribute a little bit to a book, then drop out again, I’ll bet people would enjoy that. They might be willing to give away their ideas for free in exchange for the opportunity to contribute to a book that is really going to happen. They get to work out their writing bug, I get my motivation to keep pressing on and draw on the collective abilities of, I dunno, let’s say dozens of people, to be optimistic.
I am not the first person to have this idea.
This San Francisco writer is credited with being the first crowdsourcing novelist: The Unreliable Novelist. The author takes polls from her readers, gets ideas from them, then writes a chapter; that kind of thing.
This, on the other hand, is a completely crowdsourced novel, with participants writing and voting on each sentence: The Collabowriters. It has sentences like “Even now, he could smell the bloods’ subtle, urinous odor … and it was getting stronger.” So right there, you know it’s quality literature. With multiple kinds of blood.
I’m planning to follow a middle path, involving readers in the iterative process of developing the structure of the novel, but writing the final chapters myself. There will be a lot of brainstorming in the early days, I’ll take polls, get ideas for plot points, and post draft chapters for feedback.
We’ll see how it works.