Micro Serials

McDowall sent me an interesting link a couple of days ago to a blog belonging to an Australian author by the name of Max Barry. Max has written three books; Syrup, Jennifer Government and Company, and he is in the process of writing a fourth called Machine Man. I’m sad to say that I’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading any of his books, but after perusing his blog and website I think I’ll add them to my reading list.I’ve also enjoyed reading a lot of his blog entries on writing and the industry in general. They’ve given me quite a lot of food for thought.

One specific part of his site that set my mental cogs turning was the page of the origins of his novel Machine Man. It began life in a unique and interesting way. Instead of publishing the whole thing as a web page, or selling copy-protected files online, Max created what he calls a real-time serial. Max would produce a page a day on his website, and readers would be able to comment, critique and suggest as he went along.  Max would actually read comments posted by readers and use those to influence the direction that the story took. It wasn’t quite wikipedia style collective editing, but it was as close as it’s possible to get without writing the entire thing by committee.  It’s an unusual, and possibly unique approach to writing. The first section of the serial is free to read, but to access it in its entirety you have to pay a fee. That’s fair enough in my opinion. The man put a lot of time and effort into producing the text so the least he can expect is a few bucks in return. In the end the serial ran to nearly two hundred pages, and it seems good from what I’ve managed to read of it so far. Max is currently in the process of rewriting the thing into an actual novel which is due next year.

I had a similar idea many moons ago, but never really went anywhere with it. My original idea was centred around a fictional blog, but I don’t think there’s anything that would prevent the concept being altered to work on some kind of mobile phone app. Well other than my totally atrophied programming skills.

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