Publisher Promotes “Wikinovel”

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Penguin Books and De Montfort University have launched an intriguing new project that they’ve described as “an experiment in creative writing and community.” The experiment’s objective: for a large group of volunteer writers to create a single, preferably coherent novel. Oh, and the title of the “wikinovel” will be A Million Penguins.

Anyone can lend a hand, but the project’s organizers have set down a few ground rules to keep things from getting too ridiculous. They’ve created some “technical and ethical guidelines,” and “[w]e will ask you to register to participate . . . and to look at the terms and conditions before you join in. But the most important thing we ask is that if you are not happy to have your contributions edited, altered or removed by other contributors, think carefully before signing up.”

Even so, can anyone hope that a readable piece of fiction will result from this effort? Jon Elek, a Penguin employee, didn’t set the standards very high when he posted on the official blog. “In an ideal world we could throw in a sense of plausibility, balance and humour,” he wrote. But . . . “[t]hat’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-narrated-by-a-Papal-Tiara type of thing. Or whatever.”

Jeremy Ettinghausen, Penguin’s digital publisher, spoke about his expectations in slightly less imaginative terms. “To be honest, we don’t know exactly what is going to happen or how this will turn out,” he told the Guardian Unlimited. “We hope people will enter into it in the spirit we intend and leave their egos at the door. It’s not about individual work and individual brilliance – it’s about people working together as a community.”

If you want to keep up with (or help write) A Million Penguins, you can do so here. It’s about three chapters long at the moment, and it’s, um, “interesting.”


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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

Publisher Promotes “Wikinovel”
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