Thursday, September 24, 2009

CROWD-SOURCING A STORY, SORT OF


Dahlia Lithwick, who normally writes about the law for the online magazine Slate, is in the middle of a month-long effort to write a chick lit (or "mommy lit," to be more specific) novel called "Saving Face." And yes, she plans to finish the entire thing in 30 days of when she started, September 8. She has asked Slate readers to help her with plotting and characters, and has even set up a Facebook page to solicit people's ideas on such questions as "what's the invented song little Sam sings to himself as he folds laundry," and "Marina's talking about taking those two girls home to Seattle with her. Anyone gonna find it impossible to forgive her?" As of today, Lithwick has written 11 chapters, at 2000 words per chapter. It's been fun watching the story develop, and Facebook followers get pretty invested, or at least involved, in the direction of the story. Lithwick gets fast (and reliable) help with factual details she doesn't have knowledge of, not to mention some funny bits to include in the story, and she always credits people where credit is due. Lithwick is the author, but this process only makes plain the way that many writers gather ideas and inspiration from those around them. It's a bit like crowd-sourcing a story. I see an iPhone app in there somewhere. 

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