Hands up if you played this game in school. Start writing a story on a piece of paper. Don’t think. Just write. Fold page over. Hand paper over to co-conspirator. Look at your friend out of the corner of your eye to make sure they appreciate your literary genius. Look away modestly while friend giggles and elaborate on your story. Fold page over. Repeat process.
There’s a long tradition of co-creating stories but the internet has enabled us to stretch the connection across the classroom into another classroom –in another country – in the time it takes to sharpen your pencil.
I’m probably going to get stoned for saying this but I actually HATE co-created stories on Twitter or Facebook or any social media platform. I appreciate the experimental nature of the form but what I really want as a reader is a story with a dramatic question, with characters I can empathise with and an action driven plot. Unless there’s a curator that tightly controls the vision, it is difficult for co-created stories to achieve this. That is why they are frequently about playing with the language within the space.
There are, of course, exceptions.
Tiny Owl Workshop is an independent publisher based in Brisbane. Their works are as innovative as their mode of distribution. Last year they distributed flash fiction stories on napkins at various cafes. This year they are publishing Krampus Crackers, complete with a flash fiction story and an illustration.
The Lane of Unusual Traders is their latest project:
Writer Chris White wrote a prologue to set the fantasy world of Midlfell. Cartographer Terry Whidborne created a map to orientate the readers. Artists Simon Cottee and Lauren Carney created illustrations. Writers were encouraged to submit a short story to fit any shop in the lane. An editor works with the writers to keep the story world consistent. This is writerly co-creation that I do enjoy – where individual stories can populate a world that’s been set up and each story adds to the richness of that society. This is where there’s a lot of space for digital writers, illustrators and mixed media artists to collaborate. Keep your eye out for the release of the Lane of Unusual Traders in the new year. Meanwhile, are there any co-created digital stories that you enjoy?