Ever since Twitter exploded into the social media juggernaut it’s become, I’ve been thinking of a way to interact with fans and followers in a unique way. I even got close to starting this experiment a couple of years ago, but the idea faded into the background in favor of some other projects I was working on at the time. But now that I have this blog, have officially joined Twitter, created a Google+ account, and have linked them all together in one big happy social media family, there’s no better time to jump start this idea than now.
A lot of writers (including me) will tell you that their characters dictate the direction of their stories as they write. A novel is a major undertaking, and as each new chapter is written, a writer is surprised by how the characters shape and drive the narrative to new and unsuspecting places. I wanted to be able to emulate this experience as I write a novel, using social media platforms as my base. As I write each chapter, you, my faithful readers, will in a way become the voice of the story and tell me where you want it to go. By doing this, I’m hoping to engage readers, writers, followers and the general public as a whole by writing about what you want, and at the same time, challenge myself creatively. Because Lord knows, I’m daring you all to try and trip me up!
The more creative, unique and absurd your directions are will lead to some extremely off -the-wall scenarios, but that’s where the fun comes in. It’s exactly why I call it an experiment — because there is a very good chance it could fail and become a horrible mess. But, if I can successfully write a complete novel using all of your suggestions, and have it make sense with a clear focus, interesting characters and no plot holes, than this could be a one-of-a-kind experience.
So, how does it work?
Every two to three weeks, I will post a new chapter on my blog under the heading, “Write A Novel With Me.” Every chapter will end with some type of cliffhanger. It could be small, it could be game-changing, but something will happen where I will then pose a question to you, the reader, to answer and move the story along in new, fresh and possibly outrageous directions.
From Monday to the end of business day on Thursday (5:00 p.m. PST), you will have the chance to post your answers to the question using Twitter (#WriteANovelWithMe) or the comments section on Facebook or of that chapter’s blog post. There is no limit to the amount of answers you can give, so if you can think of several different things, feel free to reveal them all. Above all else, don’t play it safe. The more creative, fun, crazy, outrageous and unique the answer is, the better the chance your answer will be selected.
On that Thursday night, I will look through all of the answers and choose my top five favorite responses. I’ll post the top five answers on Friday morning and everyone will have until the following Monday at 5 p.m. PST to vote. The answer with the highest number of votes will be used to direct the next chapter of the story.
For example, let’s say that a character has had a long day at work. His car won’t start so his he opens the hood to see what’s wrong. At this point, I’ll ask the question, “What does the man find under the hood?”
You, the reader, will answer this question with as much detail as you need. Could it be there is no engine? Could a family of possums have replaced the engine? Maybe a monkey with a fez and a hot poker has ripped out the fuel line? Whatever it is, that will be the starting point for the next chapter and will dictate how much it’s used, or how much it actually changes the direction of the story. If the winning choice is a monkey with a fez and a hot poker, I may decide the monkey runs away and is never heard from again, or it could end up burning the protagonist, sending him to the hospital to get it checked out. This could lead to a variety of different scenarios.
The story itself, the number of chapters, etc. can go on as long as it needs to tell an intriguing, self-contained story. When I feel the end is near, I will end it, but that could be anywhere from a year to five or beyond (who knows; this could just very well be the next War and Peace!). Once completed, and the process was a success, I’ll look into publishing the novel in print and maybe even start a brand new one with you. If it doesn’t, or the whole thing falls apart early, at least it’ll have been an interesting experience.
So what do you think? Are you ready to write a novel with me?
The first chapter will be posted this Monday, September 29, 2014. Don’t miss it. I have a feeling we’re all going to have a lot of fun.