Friday, April 22, 2005

Collaborative Storyblogging

I've been mulling over this crazy idea, and I'm not sure whether it's insanely brilliant or just plain insane, so I'm just gonna throw it out there and see if anything comes of it. After all, the idea itself relies upon taking the online community as a quality-control filter, such that lame posts flounder in obscurity and the occasional gem is passed along from blog to blog. (Obviously the filter doesn't work perfectly, but what does?)

So, I was thinking about this classic theatre sports game where a group of people compose an improvised 'story' together, by each taking turns at contributing (say) one sentence at a time. It's loads of fun, if kinda ridiculous.

Now, my thought was that blogs provide the opportunity for a much improved version of this game. (Improved according to story-telling standards, that is, not the comic standards of theatre sports.) The basic idea is that interested bloggers could each contribute a short 'chapter' to an ongoing collaborative story.

How it works:

1) Anyone may start a new collaborative blog-story by publishing the introductory chapter on their blog, including a link to the instructions in this post. (That way readers can find out what is going on without you needing to clutter your post with an explanation. Also it will notify me of your post, which is essential for #4 below.)

2) Anyone may continue a story by picking up from where an existing chapter leaves off. They should link to both the preceding chapter and this instruction post.

3) Note that you may pick up from any chapter you like, it need not be the most recent in the story. So stories may 'diverge' and be independently developed along several distinct paths. This should give rise to a form of 'survival of the fittest', conducive to the evolution of interesting stories. (Variation exists; human selection acts; the best storylines are continued.)

4) I will continually update this post to provide a full 'contents' page for each story, linking to all its chapters. This might take the form of a nested list for branching stories, e.g. as follows:

Story Title:

The Purpose of it All:
Mostly, I just think it sounds like fun. The collaborative aspect could bring bloggers together as they see how others interpret and develop their ideas. Plus, I find the thought of a new - 'collective' - form of creativity to be quite exciting. And, who knows, perhaps some interesting stories could result!

I've always enjoyed creative writing, and every now and then I'll have a spark of an idea for a story, but neither the time nor the inspiration to develop it fully. So this could provide a satisfying alternative: spin the core ideas into a rough introductory chapter, and let others develop it as they see fit. One could always jump in again later when they have more time, or write an alternative chapter if they didn't like the direction someone else was taking with it. It could also be fun to try continuing a pre-existing story, adding a twist of one's own.

So, that's the idea, anyway. I hope to start a story within the next couple of weeks, but others are most welcome to get the ball rolling in the meantime. This project will obviously require active participation if it is to get off the ground. Whether it's an idea that warrants realization... that's for you to judge.

Related links:


  1. Did some collaborative story writing once, but we each picked a favourite character. It's a neat idea, especially if you like playing out a flight of fancy...

    Should work, but the audience is really just the authors...


  2. Hey;

    I think you'd find this interesting;

    We are a group of teenagers from NZ expressing our philosophical ideas through poetic writing.

    We'd love it if you registered and gave some comments on our published stories (that is once we get them up)

    See we just started out and veryone has atleast 1 story ready for publishing they just need to get online and publish it.



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