“Why has Will been so busy lately?”
While this question has probably not crossed your mind, I’m going to answer it anyway. It’s actually quite a simple answer, too. For one, now that I’m done school I’ve been working EVERY day – around 60 hours a week, or more. I still enjoy a lot of free time, however, a lot of that free time during the last few weeks has been eaten up by a particular writing project that I am working on.
Have your ever heard of Ten To One?
I could explain it to you in my own words, saying that it is a collaborative writing project in which dozens (perhaps hundreds) of applicants gets whittled down to a final ten authors – all ten of which will work together to write a novel.
Just to clarify some things and expand on others, here is a much better definition of Ten To One that comes straight from the website, http://pigeonparkpress.blogspot.ca/p/ten-to-one-collaboratively-written.html :
“What is Ten To One?
Ten To One is a collaborative writing project. Ten writers will work together to produce a novel-length piece of fiction which will then be published by Pigeon Park Press. Each writer will handle one of ten central characters and write the chapters focussing on that character.
Where did this crazy idea come from?
I’m a big fan of collaborative writing. In 2012, Heide Goody and I published our first collaborative novel, Clovenhoof. We put a lot of thought into the mechanisms by which two people could write one story in one voice. We were partly inspired by the novel, Draculas, a novel written by four collaborators (Blake Crouch, Joe Konrath, Jeff Strand and F Paul Wilson). Their collaborative method was quite different to ours and interesting in its own way. Go read it. It’s a seriously fun book.
A modest test-run for Ten To One called Full Fathom Five ran for ten weeks during autumn 2012 and the resulting short story will be published as an electronic chap-book in early 2013. The Facebook elements of that project can be seen here.
Why is it called Ten To One?
The unique feature of the Ten To One project is that after a round of chapters has been written (i.e. one chapter by each writer), one of the characters will be kicked out of the story. They might be killed, shipped off to Timbuktu or locked up in grandma’s cellar. Which character is written out after each round is decided by both a panel of judges and a public vote. In the end, there will be one character left out of the original ten. Ten to One.
But what kind of story will Ten To One be?
We don’t know. Not yet. No, that’s not because of sloppy planning but because we want the story to arise from the writing styles, tastes and ideas of the ten chosen writers. If we gather ten hard-boiled crime writers then we might write a novel about ten guys in a bungled bank robbery. If our ten are fantasists we might take a trip into the lands of Faerie. We might produce a Golden Age detective whodunit or a slasher horror story or a World War II action story. The one likelihood is that, if characters are to be booted out of the narrative, it’s definitely going to have some downbeat aspects and, in all probability, some deaths. But I’m making no hard and fast rules at all.
How quickly is this novel going to be written and when will it be finished?
Once we get properly underway, I am expecting roughly 1,000 words from each writer per month. For anyone with more than a semi-professional attitude to their writing craft this is not much of a demand. There will be ten rounds (i.e. ten months) of chapter writing so, if we are able to assemble a writing team by May 2013, then the whole piece should be finished by March 2014. The writer who has survived to the end will have written approximately 10,000 words of the finished novel. The first writer to be ejected will have written only 1,000 words and have finished contributing by summer 2013.
How will the judges panel and the public vote combine to decide who stays and who goes?
After the voting window is closed, I will count how many people have chosen to ‘join’ each chapter ‘event’. The most popular chapter will earn 10 points, the second most popular will earn 9 points, and so on.
At the same time, each judge will be asked to judge the chapters, awarding 10 to their favourite, 9 to their next favourite and so on. I will be discussing with the judges what kind of criteria they should be using. The judges will be voting on the writing not the character, offering their top marks to the writer who helps convey the story and develops all characters through skilful writing.
The marks of the judges will be added together and then converted into a single set of marks (10, 9, 8, etc). These marks and the marks from the voting public will be added together and it is from these that I will determine which writer has written their last chapter. In this way the judges and the public vote will hold equal weight.
In the event of a tie in which two or more writers have equally low marks, I will decide which character is to be written out. If I have to make this decision, it will be made on the grounds of which character is least essential in progressing the overall plot of the novel.
The voting system will be open, transparent and fair. The individual marks given by each judge will not be shared but the overall marks given by the judging panel will be shared.
What are the publishing plans?
Ten To One, or whatever title we choose to give the finished novel, will be published as a Kindle book on Amazon and a small print run of physical copies will be produced. These will be sold at literary events and in such shops as will be willing to stock them.
Hopefully, one of the strengths of this project is that all those people who followed the process on-line and voted on Facebook (I’m thinking hundreds of people but hoping thousands) will buy their own copy of the book.
We will promote the book heavily through the traditional electronic methods but also, because of the unique nature of the collaboration, will aim to do a lot of live events and media marketing. Wherever you are in the world, I hope to set up some interesting promotional events near you.”
Now, from my understanding there was quite a large number of applicants. Some 80 or so were under consideration, as ‘long-listed’ authors. Eventually that list got whittled down to 20, thanks to a piece of prose by each of the authors. Currently, I am one of those twenty ‘short-listed’ authors, eagerly awaiting the reveal of the final ten.
Before the ten are revealed, though, each of us twenty ‘short-listed’ authors have to do two things. First, I had to create a character and write a character sketch. That was completed last week. Now I have until Monday the 20th to write a character ‘meeting piece’ in which my character interacts with another author’s character. Basically, I’m to read all of the character sketches, choose a character that I think would provide a good interaction with my character and then write about it. Both the character sketch and the character ‘meeting piece’ will be taken into consideration when the editor chooses the final ten authors.
So, I’ve been quite busy over the last few weeks pounding out story ideas with these other writers from around the world, filling out surveys and questionnaires, voting on plot elements and setting, creating my character and now, working on a piece of prose to best showcase all of my talents. I would be extremely thrilled if I was allotted a spot as one of the final ten writers, but even the experience so far has been worth it. I hope that if my participation in Ten To One continues that I can have your support, and I will definitely keep you updated as to what is happening with the project.
It’s an exciting prospect even to think about, but now that I am SO close to being a part of the novel, I want it more than ever.
I hope all of this answers the question I posed at the very beginning of this post – the question that you weren’t asking and probably didn’t even care about! 😉
Sorry to make this such a long post, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.
Thanks for reading!