The Collaborative Novel

People are collaborating everywhere these days • in building software (Linux, Apache), in virtual project teams, playing virtual games with players spread out across the universe. They say that the reign of superior proprietary intellectual capital is coming to an end; that (1+1+1…to infinity) is better than solitary (1+none =1). So why not write a collaborative novel?
What would take place here? Writers are opinionated, we know, love their creations, and sometimes hate others’. Characters would morph from blonde to brunette to tall to short to pimply to gangly, from chapter to chapter, depending on who is doing the “collaborative” writing at the time. Anarchy would reign supreme. Plots? Who needs those today anyway • but in the collaborative novel, plot would beat out the longest running soap opera; it would never end as long as there are collaborators writing.
Okay, let’s get serious here. What if the organizers of the collaborative novel (watch it, sounds to me like big bad business is taking over the creative process again, like they do in real life) were to frame a plot, describe the characters, limit the number of pages and set a deadline for completing the novel. Sounds like anarchy in a box to me, but carry on… The writers then get on with their work of writing and the organizers retain full editorial control over what is written and what finally ends up in the collaborative novel. Everyone who has contributed even a single word to the final product gets mentioned in the credits (there will have to be a supplemental book, as long as the novel itself, to include all the contributors and their bios, I think, as who does not want to be a published writer?) Sound good? Sounds like a movie • you know, with multiple script writers, script doctors and nurses, formulaic plots, predictable characters and credits that never end when you are dying to run to the washroom to empty the biggie•sized Coke you drank during the show. Everything will default once more to the lowest common denominator • mediocrity.
Until they refine this collaborative novel idea a bit more, I think I am going to stay in my solitary room churning out my next besteller (it’s good to dream,right?) written by me, myself and I

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