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By weregoat (Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 05:24:28 AM EST) WFC7 (all tags)
How the tale-by-committee came to be

One Sunday, ana, bo, and Kellnerin (among others) were in a chat room, doing their usual Sunday chat room thing, which is purportedly to write. bo said, "I don't have any idea of what to write about."

Said Kellnerin, "How about: loneliness and found objects?" That Sunday happened to be the last day before the deadline for WFC, the Seventh, and it being only noontime in bo's neck of the woods, she knew he wouldn't have started yet.

More ideas were tossed about, and then someone remarked, "I hope there'll be more entries to the WFC before the deadline."

"Next time, we should write a story together." We've attempted this kind of insanity before, though not for the WFC.

"We could do it this time!"

It was just crazy enough -- not to work, exactly, but for us to try it.

We avoided the logistical nightmare of splitting up the story by beginning, middle, and end and trying to write them simultaneously, but gave each person a different character and point of view instead. ana went delving in a spam bucket for names, and Kellnerin hit up a random plot generator for a premise. It returned the following:

Setting: a tiled subway station
Character: a thief
Conflict: someone needs money, but has none

ana mixed that with the names and came up with the following sketch: Rick Grimm, thief, is pickpocketed by his intended victim, Rosalyn Gallo. Willis K. McDaniel, transit cop, witnesses the deed. Rebekah Springer was a name we held in reserve, for a bystander or something else.

When bo suggested that subway stations also feature CCTV cameras these days, and that there'd be a more distant observer of the scene, Kellnerin instantly knew she'd want to put Willis in the monitoring booth, watching. If you've seen the movie Kontroll, maybe you know why that limited, camera's-eye view was appealing.

Then when bo also suggested the additional perspective of the thing stolen, ana knew that was the part bo was born to write.

Which left ana with Rosalyn, the victim who wasn't.

It was amusing to at least one of us that the thief supposedly at the center of the auto-generated story was the one not represented.

We made up some physical description of Rick and Ros, then we each started writing, in three blocks, comparing notes in between each section. Turned out Rosalyn knew Willis, and that Willis knew Rick. And the wallet hid a picture of Ros and Wil, back in the day (a working title, "Ros/Wil BFF" was abandoned because the characters are not seventeen years old, but it entertained us due to the UFO-esque speculation of the wallet inhabitants about Wil's scar on the strip of photos). Backstory sprouted up in a somewhat ad hoc manner and some of it even made it onto the page (screen). Somewhere along the way, some of us tried to remember that the theme was supposed to involve loneliness, and found objects.

After the first drafts were done, we compared notes and tried to reconcile the discrepancies, see if there was a way these pieces could tell one story. We cut back some -- the moment when Willis recognizes Ros definitively on the camera, Ros discovering the photo in the wallet -- maybe pruning too severely, leaving too much in the gaps rather than in the events that were told, but hey. No one can say we didn't have fun.

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Connecting Train | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
It needed to sit for a week by 2 plus 3 equals 5 (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 06:33:44 PM EST
Fresh eyes could have edited/rewritten it into something more comprehensible on the first read. Interesting, though. Try it again.

-- Do the math.
It was fun. by ana (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 08:24:36 AM EST
And a bit of gel would have helped. Followed, perhaps, by each of us editing the others' prose.

Power up your flaming yo-yos already! --StackyMcRacky

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I agree by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 04:38:37 PM EST
We wrote it in one big rush, and reworked it in a similarly rushed manner. Neither of those things make for particularly good fiction, although a few good moments arose from the spontaneity, I think.

Also, I think when I was writing it I vaguely thought we'd interweave the different threads a bit better than we did, but when we were done with the text, we convinced ourselves that it was confusing enough as it was and further mixing would only make things worse. I think we were probably just justifying laziness. From my self-review and reactions to my "real" entry you can tell that I have a tendency to leave too much on the cutting-room floor sometimes.

I did do a remix which may or may not be better on the first read-through; at least it's more chronological. It needs more editing than that, though. I did smooth the transitions a bit, and filled out my section a bit more, but my co-conspirators are NaNo-ing, so none of us have the attention to devote to it at the moment. Some more distance would probably help, too.

I'm not against trying a similar experiment again. It would be preferable to start earlier, however, and fix it up a bit better before posting.

"Late to the party" is the new "ahead of the curve" -- CRwM

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Connecting Train | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback