The wonderful Penguin UK and DeMontfort University have teamed up to create a massive wiki novel project. For the month of Feb (and beyond hopefully), anyone (including spammers you darn…!) can co-write a novel on a wiki. Here is their goal:
Can a collective create a believable fictional voice? How does a plot find any sort of coherent trajectory when different people have a different idea about how a story should end – or even begin? And, perhaps most importantly, can writers really leave their egos at the door? Typically, a writer will acknowledge in print the efforts of their book’s editor, copy editor and agent, since they each will have read the work in draft form. But such acknowledgments regularly include a disclaimer along these lines : “Any errors that remain are, of course, my own”. So the majority of published writers depend on collaboration, but only up to a point. After all, there is usually a single name on the jacket of a novel.
So is the novel immune from being swept up into the fashion for collaborative activity? Well, this is what we are going to try and discover with A Million Penguins, a collaborative, wiki-based creative writing exercise. We should go into this with the best spirit of scientific endeavour – the experiment is going live, the lab is under construction, the subjects are out there. And the results? We’ll see in a couple of months.