Collaborative writing

Yesterday these words were typed into a search engine:

“Does inspiration depend on solitude?”

The person seeking an answer was led to this blog, which wasn’t very helpful—yet.
blue pen and inkwell
Some writers (I’m one of these) require solitude in which to collect their thoughts. Some find music stimulating. Some are inspired by discussion and collaboration. If you fall into the last category, then you’re probably enthused about using the Web to connect with other writers of the same sensibility. Here are a few places where they can be found:

Ficlets
[Update as of January 4, 2009] See Chris Meadows’ “Requiem for Ficlets.com” and, as of January 18, 2009, Meadows’ “Ficlets is dead; long live Ficly” to learn the fate of Ficlets.

Microfiction forms the building blocks used to construct stories on this site. Its originator, Kevin Lawver, explains:

Each and every ficlet is modular in that, though you may have written a stand-alone story with a beginning, middle, and ending, your fellow ficleteers may choose to write a prequel or sequel to your story. In this respect, you can think of ficlets as literary Legos.

I swear to you this was the first ficlet I read.

My Gorgeous Somewhere
The anonymous blogger Ceridwen is enchanted by collaborative poetry, or co-po, if you will:

The way we each respond to the words and phrases the other person contributes. How a piece that in one moment seems like it’s headed nowhere fast can, in a word or two, find its way somewhere startling, strange and gorgeous.

Collaborative poetry makes me all zingy—it gives me a pins-and-needles kind of weird-happy feeling.

The Chopin Manuscript
Why should bloggers have all the fun? Take 15 well-known thriller authors, a serial audiobook format, and a plot that begins with an American musicologist and former war crimes investigator discovering a hidden manuscript, thought to have been written by Chopin, whose notations conceal a deadly secret. Ask each author to add a succeeding chapter to the mystery, shake, and bake and you have a novel whose final installment was released by Audible.com earlier this month. Listen to the first chapter of the audiobook for free.

To learn more about collaborative writing, see the dozen or more examples listed in the Wikipedia entry> or read the story “Creative Crowdwriting: The Open Book” by Kristin Gorski and her collaborators.

Writers come in all flavors, but they have a single definitive characteristic. They read.

5 Replies to “Collaborative writing”

  1. Interesting stuff, Robin. I’ve always wanted to try collaborating on a story or novel, but I also know that I work best in solitude and have a rather idiosyncratic creative process. So I tend to shy away from the idea of something that I’m eager to try. Weird. Anyway, your post got me thinking about it again. Maybe at some point I’ll do something…

  2. I can’t imagine collaboration as fun (in most circumstances), but scriptwriters must. How do they deal with the inevitable power struggles? Is excellence at team sports a prerequisite?

  3. I just discovered ficlets the other day and thought it was a very cool concept. (It reminded me of story exercises we used to do in an acting class when I was a kid…we had to tell a sentence of a story and then pass it onto the next child, a lesson in improv. I loved it but sat next to someone who ummmed and ahhhhed their whole way through!) I sat on ficlets reading for about an hour but never contributed because I felt I might ruin a story!

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