Fancy trying your hand at creative writing but can’t quite find the time? Tired of scribbling away all by yourself?
British publisher Penguin may have the answer — a Web-based, collaborative novel that can be written, edited or read by anyone, anywhere thanks to “wiki” software, the technology behind Web encyclopaedia Wikipedia.
The novel, “A Million Penguins,” went live on Thursday and its first lines are already being written, edited and rewritten by enthusiasts on www.amillionpenguins.com.
Penguin, which embarked on the project with a group of creative writing and new media students, says it is using the novel as a test of whether a group of disparate and diverse people can create a “believable fictional voice.”
“This is an experiment. It may end up like reading a bowl of alphabet spaghetti,” Jeremy Ettinghausen, head of digital publishing at Penguin UK said, adding there were no plans as yet to publish the completed work.
“We are not making any predictions. It would be utterly fantastic if we could at the end create a print remix.”
So far, the first chapter includes Carlo, a troubled man walking his dog, and “on the other side of the globe” a seductive murderer, Tom Morouse, “known as the Tango poisoner.”
The experimental novel, which Penguin says is the first “wiki novel” to be started from scratch by a major publishing house, will be online for at least six weeks.
But it warns budding artists that the work is not a talent search and insists it expects a variety of tones and abilities.
“In an ideal world we could throw in a sense of plausibility, balance and humor,” Penguin’s blogger, Jon Elek, wrote in an entry earlier this week.
“That’s asking a lot, and in truth I’ll be happy so long as it manages to avoid becoming some sort of robotic-zombie-assassins-against-African-ninjas-in-space-narrate d-by-a-Papal-Tiara type of thing.”
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