“One-word-at-a-time” was one of the first types of collaborative writing that was explored at the Fiction Wikia. Participants were supposed to take turns adding one word at a time to a growing story. This type of collaboration is a good way to get new participants involved with wiki editing. A serious problem with this type of collaboration is that it only takes one person who is trying to be “random” to derail a developing story. I previously made this rather harsh statement:
“We really need tools that allow collaborators to choose exactly who can participate in a particular story writing effort. If someone is causing trouble, they must be excluded from the collaboration.”
Another type of “taking turns” collaboration is “One-paragraph-at-a-time“. According to the rules that were established for this collaboration, authors “don’t discuss the plot with other authors”. Such a restriction puts a serious strain on the process of collaboration. In my experience, good writing collaborations are built on good communication between authors. For example, live internet chat is a good tool that can be used by collaborating authors.
An option for writing collaboration that falls between “One-word-at-a-time” and “One-paragraph-at-a-time” would be to have authors take turns writing one sentence at a time. A recent experiment at Twitter comes close to this, but uses Twitter’s arbitrary 140 character size limit for successive contributions. The collaboration is called abookduct. Using Twitter to do a writing collaboration that can be coherently sustained through time is a serious challenge. Before I could participate I had to create a document where I could put together the individual tweets all in one place. Hopefully there will soon be a website where these growing stories from Twitter can be compiled (update: see this website). In any case, this is an interesting example of how to use social media to start writing collaborations and find potential collaborating authors.
I suggest that tweets starting with
#abookduct #001a #m
can contain information about the story (not actual story content). “m” is for “meta”, and a meta-tweet helps authors of the story communicate useful information that can aid in collaboration. For details on how to participate see abookdect.com.
Image. Sierpinski pyramid by Peter Bertok. License: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0