Arthur Smid

How about a Wiki for storytelling? Wiki-novel: Progressive Storytelling and Modern Bookmaking

A group of authors meet together as would musicians and tell each other stories. They decide to collaborate on a writing project and figure that something like a Google Doc would work. One of the writers is also a programmer and she has an idea to write some code for a wiki-novel. Each writer has a colored hyperlink. Readers can click on links while reading and go into another facet of the narrative––a take from another author’s perspectives––and explore hyperlinks within that scene written by other writers in the group.

The wiki-novel is online for anyone to find and it gets serialized to subscribers. Every Friday they receive an email with story highlights and a link to the wiki-novel. There are buttons created at the end of each section of the narrative so readers can say yes, this is cool; or I’m indifferent to this thread; or no, I don’t like this one (there’s also a comment thread allowing them fuller participation in the story). The characters’ narrative develops as the authors follow each other––writing links and exploring storylines––and as they follow their readers. Even if readers just enjoy the story and pass on the yes/no/pass vote and the opportunity to comment, there are analytics that show what links get the most click-throughs and the direction people are reading in the story.

A novel written by one person can take many months, years, sometimes more than a decade to complete. The wiki-novel would expand and explore its range and depth over time until the characters are developed and the story has structure. Upon conclusion of the narrative, the project goes into a second phase: it becomes a book. The online work gets taken apart and edited together like a film. The book weaves the narrative threads into one continuous story with well-developed characters in a believable world. The writers base the story in the city where they live, so that there can be mutual agreement about where things are spatially. If one character says I’ll meet you at Powell’s on Burnside, the others know exactly where it is and they can cross the street, and know where the character is.

Anything can happen in the story, the authors can try any device, make cats talk or cars fly. Writers can keep it completely realistic if they choose. The dynamic of online feedback and following the audience alongside the story is the indication of what works. A progressive story develops over time online in the wiki-novel with full participation of an online community of readers. The printed book takes shape when there’s a complete story arc. The creation of the object of the book coheres disparate scenes into one story with full consideration of what makes reading a novel enjoyable.

Hey everyone, please let me know what you think of this idea, both from the programming side of it (creating a platform, though it looks like that's already available in Markdown) and the potential author and reader experience.