I have, just today, realized just how challenging my recent endeavor has become. The project is the story of an alternate earth, called Verdanus, which is in a binary orbit with another planet, Tertius. I attempt to explore several layers of conflict in this sci-fi setting by approaching the world from the perspectives of a myriad characters. The original idea was joint project between myself and Rohit Kumar, and I have expanded upon it greatly.
The story was originally created as a basis for a massive collaborative writing project on a roleplaying website, but the project and audience did not mesh. I have recently revitalized the project on Eric Martindale’s roleplaying website, RolePlayGateway.com. His innovative Roleplay Tab bit of user interface has allowed for any writer to create a comprehensive collaborative writing project, and I took advantage of it for Verdanus and Tertius: War of the World.
When the project failed in its original location during the summer of 2009, I moved the content to Ficly.com. Ficly allows for any author to add a sequel or a prequel to any story, so long as they maintain a 1024 character limit. A paperback page is about 350 words, while 1024 characters is about 175. The drive to make each ficlet both interesting and informative pushes authors to use those 1024 characters to their utmost potential, making stories both more concise and funner to read. The website also promotes collaboration, though this project, there tagged with ‘Elysium‘ for reference, has not been subject to sequels or prequels. Ficly’s Kevin Lawver has taken an interest in my Ficly Tree suggestion, which would better show the relationships that sequels and prequels share.
I have also recently taken full advantage of WordPress.com to house an archive or the project and make it more accessible to those that might follow me on Facebook or Twitter. However, Verdanus on WordPress alone would eventually smash me into writer’s block, killing the project altogether. The Ficly version has the potential to inject the project with other’s ideas, but has by now too large a barrier to entry (even though I’ve tried my best to provide ample hooks and entry points) to ward of stagnation. The 1024 character limit does help, forcing me to remember an overflow of ideas from each ficlet for later. On the other hand, the RolePlayGateway version has picked up several other writers who are eager to ‘play in the sandbox’ and thereby give me new ideas, as well as drive me to give responses to their content.
The challenge is as follows. The project exists as entirely my own writing, and as the combined writing of myself and others. Every new bit of content that I add thus needs to work for both versions, and that is becoming increasingly difficult. I cannot directly respond to another writer’s content, as I have neither invited them to replicate their work on my other versions, nor do I feel comfortable copying it over (except for the microstory Promotion for the Sous which Rohit Kumar composed, and I included with his permission). So my content has to be dynamic enough to be interpreted both as a continuation of my unbroken story, and a continuation of the story influenced by other writers. I first realized the challenge factor of this with a microstory which can be found on RolePlayGateway in Verdanus and Tertius, Ficly (Out in the Open), and my Verdanus blog (Out in the Open).
I wonder how long I can keep up? I’ve yet to read some new content by others on the RolePlayGateway version, so I may have to start focusing on those tendrils of the story that have so far gone untouched.