Monday, January 09, 2012

[Cooperative Writing Project][Spire]Notes & Rules (Three Years Too Late)

This is a continuation from this note, lo those many moons agone. If you're wondering why I've tagged you, it's because you either expressed interest in it before, or you're someone I've shared cooperative writing projects (RP) with before and I thought you might be interested.

Well, first of all, I should probably apologize to everyone for the length of time it's taken me to produce this. For one thing, I have no experience in this kind of grand project; I'm sloppy, disorganized, and more absent-minded than the Nutty Professor, with Alzheimer's, chowing down on a panfull of hash brownies. Still, delaying a post like this for the better part of three years is a little much, even for me.

I'm going to tacitly ignore the sound of people still waiting for updates on previous writing projects (West End Blues, Twilight Exile), even though I can feel their burny gazes of hate stabbing through my soul even as I type. Ow. Ow. Ow.

The way I picture this working (and I am very open to suggestions, by the by) is thusly; all stories take place in Spire, at least in part. Perhaps the protagonists will go adventuring in other parts of the Empire, perhaps the story takes place on the outskirts of the city, or the farmlands around, or even in one of the little villages that cling to the big city's skirts, but the Spire should be a focal point, the common weft that binds our writerly world together.

There is no limit on how long or short a story should be, only that it must contain a clearly delineated beginning, middle, and end. If you can tell a complete story in six words, as Ernest Hemingway once did, it counts. The catch here is that it sharply precludes "serial" fiction; you're writing complete short stories, rather than the little snippets of story that usually dominate online shared writer worlds (likeRDI).

At a predetermined, agreed upon time (perhaps every month, or every six weeks), a new event or theme will rock the city, and stories can/should revolve around those. Events might include: the death of a noble, a citywide festival, a serial killer stalks the streets, a great storm hits the town. We could include different genre styles in with the themes, so that they might include: write a romance story, a detective story, a horror tale. One month's determination might be "arc words" - at some point in your story, you should include a phrase of significance that would pop up throughout the story. "Who is John Galt?" from Atlas Shrugged, or "Give me back my Hat!" from The Midnight Mayor both come to mind (or "Bad Wolf" from Dr. Who). There are quite a number of Urban Fantasy anthologies running around that seem to run on this principal, and they make for good reading (as well as common ground between otherwise quite different authors).

Characters: You're not required to use the same character for every story, but neither are you discouraged from doing so. One of joys of a shared world is the verisimilitude that comes from seeing familiar faces in new ground; thusly, we should be open to sharing our characters with others. If @Chris wants to use my hero Cromley the Fool in a tavern scene, this would be encouraged. On the other hand, nobody likes it when control of their character is taken from them, or when their character is shown acting "out of character," so where possible communication between authors is to be encouraged, and no permanent harm or effects should be done to another author's character (unless they expressly authorize it, of course).

Story submissions; I think we'll need a forum, or perhaps a blog. I'd like both; a blog to post the stories on, and a forum in which we can discuss story arcs, event ideas, and share information on the world and on our characters. This will take some discussion and work. In the mean time, though, we can probably get started using Facebook, e-mail, and instant messengers.

As stated above, stories have no minimum or maximum length; they are required only to start and stop in a reasonable manner. Also as stated above, the events and themes for that month should probably be considered guidelines; if you've got an idea for a story that doesn't take place during that month's "theme," then roll it out anyway - there's no reason to hide it away until it's appropriate. We should agree on some sort of calendar for the world, though, so that we can synchronize our stories. If Writer A is writing tales set in the "now", and Writer B wants to set stories a hundred years prior, then that's okay - as long as both writers and readers are aware of the dichotomy.

Likewise, I've deliberately left all but the barest strokes of the setting open because I want to encourage people to come up with their own creations, rather than trying to impose limits on the project newly formed. I picture Spire as being set on something like the Cornish coast, if England were still attached to continental Europe. It's an independent city that survives mostly by being too valuable to its neighbors to quash, without being quite valuable enough to subsume - the goose that lays golden eggs, but only if it's left free.

I see the world of Spire as being a very Dungeons & Dragons inspired world, as many fantasy settings seem to be these days. There are many races living together, sometimes in harmony, sometimes not so much. Magic exists, and even flourishes - some folk have more of an aptitude for it than others, of course. Technology would probably be close to the late Middle Ages, or the early Renaissance. There are sophisticated trade networks, so we're likely to see a vast variety of products that, in our own world, might seem slightly anachronistic - likewise, occupations and professions.

I think the first theme should be "Introductions." I hope to have my entry up in a few days, hopefully hashing some more of this out. :)

So... that's what I've got, guys. Your thoughts?

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