Well, it’s actually more accurate to say you’re the decision-maker, but that was a bit long for the title. So, this isn’t a post about interactive stories in general. I actually want to start one on this blog. Chenoa Fawn ran a Cadavre Exquis recently on her blog, Sibylline Syllables, which was very popular. Everyone read what had been written so far and then added up to fifty words of their own. The problem I had was that I didn’t know where the story was going and didn’t feel I could properly contribute. The idea itself was fantastic, it was just the execution that didn’t quite work for me. (Which was probably just me, loads of other people loved it.)
So last night I was trying to think of ways to boost my readership. I thought, Kristen Lamb‘s We Are Not Alone (The Writer’s Guide to Social Media) says that we should use social media to build our brand and, for better or worse, the brand that I want to build is Anne-Mhairi Simpson, fantasy writer. So, I had an idea.
I want to build a world on this blog and then write a story based in that world. The difference is that I won’t be doing this alone. Oh no. You will be helping me. In fact, a lot of this world and the subsequent story is going to be down to you.
You see, first we have to build the world. Do you want deserts, mountains, rainforests? All of the above? Do you want huge oceans that people actually travel over? Do you want eight-legged antelopes and knee-high gnus? What’s the weather like? What kind of transport is there? Do people use horses and what do they look like? What kind of people live there? Do they live in cities or villages? Are there nomadic tribes that wander the seas? Do the city people get on with the village people? Do the land people get on with the sea people? Has the whole place gone to hell in a handbasket and it’s up to the hero/heroine to sort out the mess?
And that’s just the basic stuff. What about magic? Are there objects of power? Do swords get put in stones? Do people have to go on a quest? Do they dreamwalk? Are there wizards and witches? Are magic users venerated, hated or ignored? Are there magical animals or races? (By which I mean animals/people that either don’t make sense unless you include the existence of magic or that regularly use magic) What kind of magic do they do and do they get on with non-magic users? Or does everyone have magic and what kind of magic can they do? Can they start fires and find lost objects? Can they throw love spells? Can they manipulate people’s hearts and minds?
You see what I mean? I’ve written a few posts about fantasy world-building and I thought, nothing lets the mind run free quite so much as a lack of responsibility for your creations. Hence me offering you this opportunity to really let fly!
Now, there are obviously some ground rules. I am leaning towards making the hero a heroine, since the majority of my readers (going by the comments) seem to be female. I will, however, be taking votes on this, as with many other aspects of the story, and whichever gender proves most popular is what I’ll go with. Once we have built the world, I will then start the story – episodes will be posted once a week on Tuesdays and there will be three options at the end of each episode. Again, the one that gets the most votes will be the one I base the next episode on. Voting will probably be accepted through the Friday or Saturday following each episode (I’ll make a concrete decision on this closer to the time) and then I will have to close it to give myself time to write the next episode. Depending on how much input I get I’ll decide how long the serial is to be. I think 13 episodes is a good number to aim at, at least for now. If the idea is popular we can always do another one!
Let me know what you think and free your minds – give me all your ideas and I’ll see what I can do with them You have until midnight on Sunday California time (don’t ask me to remember the time zone code for any time zone I don’t live in) to get your ideas in because then I will have Monday to write the first episode.
PS Feel free to comment on other people’s ideas as well – if you particularly like someone else’s suggestion, let me know!
PPS If you can come up with a title I would be very grateful. I suck at titles