Rhizomatic Writing Project.

Inspired by Marx’s notion of the general Intellect, advancements in online technology and access, as well as the example of the collaborative imagined worlds of online sci-fi platforms; we are currently contemplating what possibilities exist for an online collaboration in literature.

Since the emergence of the internet, attempts have been made to collaboratively ‘pen’ a novel, many of these can now be found in the murky depths of any given search engine.

Penguin books famously attempted an open collaborative project in the early days of Wiki’s. Entitled  ‘A million Penguins’ , the project became infamous for being ’too big’ and ‘too fast’ to manage.

Due to the very nature of collaborative wiki’s, contributors were free to edit the story as they saw fit, this was usually done to ‘shoehorn’ in their subsequent contribution.As wiki’s can be ammended in real-time, this created a massive headache for the editorial team, as well as fellow contributors, who found the narrative increasingly difficult to follow or ammend themselves. The appearance of online trolls, interested in sabotage for ’the lulz’, also helped to bury the project.

While open collaborative stories have prooven difficult to draw together in any meaningful way, online fantasy universes, where an individual can contribute to the creation of a shared imagined space, seem interesting examples of a functioning collective imaginary.

Perhaps collectively creating the ‘setting’ for a novel first;to come together to agree its geography, politics, economy and history, can aid the process for contributors to develop a shared ’character’ driven narrative?

Would this ‘prep work’ also allow contributors a collective sense of ownership over the project but limit the direction a story could develop?

Despite these reservations, an arguement exists for the possibility of creating a sucessful online multi-authored novel.

So is anyone up for a playing an online game of exquisite corpse, one that keeps open the creative possibility of chance, whilst developing a coherent collective narrative?

As stated above, would we need to collectively address the setting of the novel first? If a story is situated in the ‘real world’ , how do we then agree a shared understanding of the world we all inhabit?

How is the subjective to be made objective?

If we accept the nessesity of parameters, in terms of maintaining a stories continuity and coherence, what guidelines would be nessesary for us to deploy in advance, that could kill the need for editorial control?

Also how would a contributor be rewarded? What publishing platforms/formats could we deploy for our end result? 

Answers on a postcard plzzzz…..

About the author

Beat Ed

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