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 3. Collaborative Storytelling 101

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PostSubject: 3. Collaborative Storytelling 101   Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:14 pm

Collaborative Storytelling 101


In a true collaborative environment, each contributor has an almost equal ability to add, edit, and remove text. The writing process becomes a recursive task, where each change prompts others to make more changes. It is easier to do if the group has a specific end goal in mind, and harder if a goal is absent or vague.

A very good method of discussion and communication is essential, especially if disagreements arise.

Successful collaboration occurs when each participant [or stakeholder] is able to make a unique contribution toward achieving a common vision or goal statement. Supporting this common goal are objectives that have been generated by each of the participants. It is important for each participant to "feel" as though he or she has a significant contribution to make to the achievement of goals. It is also important that each participant be held accountable for contributing to the writing project. [Brown, C. A., 2007, East Carolina University]

Collaborative writing can lead to projects that are richer and more complex than those produced by individuals. Many learning communities include one or more collaborative assignments. However, writing with others also makes the writing task more complex.


Collaborative Writing - Pratical Approaches - Wikipedia

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Here at the Bridge our style can more appropriately be referred to as 'Collaborative Story-Playing' because as opposed to re-editing a story over and over, we are in a state of constant construction and rarely if ever demolish and build anew.

Please refrain from comments in this thread and debate can be conducted Under the Bridge. The posts here should simply relay your impressions on this style writing and share the wisdom you have gained with the community. This is not a place of criticism but growth created mainly to help new members by providing insights and perhaps also enlightening your fellow writers.

Thank you,

All Father.


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'Tis here I stand! 'Tis here I fight! And should destiny decree so -- Tis here I shall perish!


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PostSubject: Re: 3. Collaborative Storytelling 101   Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:19 pm

The Tao of Foreshadowing
(An opinion to be taken with a grain of salt)



More or less the dictionary description of foreshadowing is to present an indication or a suggestion of things to come in later plot developments. It is an essential writing element needed to maintain the interest of the reader. In our case, as a collaborative story-telling community we are both reader and writer and thus we have to consider many factors when foreshadowing.

First off, in my opinion, foreshadowing is the mortar to the bricks that we write in order to build our story but that being said it is not always needed. Sometimes the idea alone carries the story to an apex, but after that high, eventually we reader-writers will require new concepts to build on. Concepts which will often be revealed by foreshadowing, unless the writer decides to come right out and give up the ghost, a method that has its merits.

Any new members of the Bridge who have not yet entered a story should already realize like the rest of our community, that in Collaborative Story-telling, control is an illusion! One should never aspire to be in control but rather to be a good guide. Guidance and Foreshadowing in a Collaborative environment are pretty much one in the same. Any time you add to the story you have to blend your ideas with what already exists, then you have to provide paths that will allow another writer to continue. This will ensure that your post becomes a stepping stone, thus allowing your ideas to flow along seamlessly.

Foreshadowing is an art. Too little information and you lose your reader, too much and you're basically giving away the story or in our case telling others what to write. In our case, we can choose how much guidance we wish to give and not cause harm to the story, it all depends upon the general tone at the time. It's really all about balance. Everyone should take a turn at the reins but then relinquish them and see where others will take the story. This give and take, is regulated by good foreshadowing allowing all writers to intuitively build the plot based upon the implied information provided in previous contributions. Often the path will narrow, its unavoidable, but the foreshadowing should always provide some wiggle room. When things get too tight you can smother the other writers and the story may stall or take a violent turn. This can easily be avoided in two ways:

1. Realize that your plot line is not really yours. Yeah, you've invested a lot of time developing it, but if others are trying to steer it in another direction, then obviously interest is waning. Try and expand on the ideas of your fellow writers and incorporate them into the plot line (so long as they are adhering to the basic theme of the story).

2. Lessen your foreshadowing and spend some time on character development allowing the other writers to catch up and take the story their way for while. You might be pleasantly surprised where it ends up.

This is the Tao of Foreshadowing.
A way of collaborative writing.
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PostSubject: Re: 3. Collaborative Storytelling 101   Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:31 pm

THERE'S NO TROUBLE IN A BUBBLE
(Another opinion to be taken with a grain of salt)



Well maybe for you there isn't, but one can't continue to write in a bubble in a collaborative environment. In a moderated role-playing realm, your boundaries are strictly set and the direction of your transparent sphere is directed, but not in a Free-Form Story.

When you add to the story through your character you have to be aware of what's going on with all the other character's around you. Your world is their world and vica versa. If someone's post reflects a dramatic shift in time you have write appropriately in order to accommodate the flow of the scene as they have written it.

Many of us who have collaboratively written for a while probably aren't even aware the time anymore. We just naturally adjust for it, and expect our fellow writers to follow suit. It is only when someone start's to 'bubble-write' that storytellers become aware of this flow of time that we naturally follow.

No one's perfect though, mistiming occurs from time to time and its usually remedied in OOC discussion. It's only when it becomes a habit that other writers can start become annoyed, so the best way to avoid this is simply to be roughly aware of where your characters are on the time line. Realize that once your character interacts with another, that you are now both on the same time line. If the two characters split off from one another they cannot meet up again without synchronizing where they both stand. This can best be illustrated by this example:

Mr. Brown exchanges a few words with Miss Purple then takes off to the pub and has a drink while she jumps into her car and drives off across the city (about a forty five minute trip). She gets back to her apartment and starts conversing with Mr. Orange. Time is established by the action of Miss Purple mixing a drink in the kitchen then returning to the living room. In that time, the door bell rings, she answers the door and its Mr. Brown.

If you can't spot the problem here, then you probably need to work on your awareness of the unseen timeline that exists in every story. There's no way that Mr. Brown could suddenly be at Miss Purple's apartment that quickly, no matter how fast he finished his drink (and it was never established that he was following her). Now this might seem a trivial matter to some, but to many, it throws a monkey wrench in the story, especially when a writer has purposely written their post to generate the distance for an important reason. A collaborative story can smother when all the character's of multiple writers are boxed in together for too long in the same bubble. A good story needs breathing space as well as good timing.

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PostSubject: Re: 3. Collaborative Storytelling 101   Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:54 pm

DO YOU KNOW YOUR MAIN FROM YOUR SUB?
MAIN CHARACTERS & SUB-CHARACTERS


In a collaborative storytelling environment the basic elements are often internalized in our characters, as it is through them that we add to our never-ending story. Our protagonists and antagonists allow us to weave our tale, but a story cannot exist upon main characters alone. If every scene was solely dominated by the same characters our story would only be an ego-maniacal dialogue, doomed to stagnate, thus we require sub-characters to externalize our main roles and reflect the world that we create. They are essential to perpetuate a story!

At Bifrost Bridge we recognize the terms Non-player character, Sub-character and Community-character. Essentially a NPC and comm-character are the same thing, they are sub-characters that any writer can openly manipulate so long as they adhere to the condition of keeping them in the persona of which they were first introduced. This is simply a common courtesy to your fellow writers and the story, as we must always strive to be as consistent as possible.

When one submits a sub-character please advise your fellow writers whether or not they are a personal sub-character or not. We recognize that a writer may wish to retain sole control of their sub-characters, but realize that it is your responsibility then to ensure that they are properly controlled. Sub-characters are living, breathing entities and one cannot expect them to be the private entourage of a main character, you must be prepared to have them at one time or another, interact with all other characters within the story. A story at least requires a few comm-characters, otherwise we are creating a fixed landscape reliant upon, at times, a single writer. One who is attempting to successfully create interaction not only between their main characters but also an array of sub-characters in order to keep the story going. Eventually, this house of cards will collapse unless other writers take command of the sub-characters and add there own spin to the plot as they see it unfolding. This is true collaborative writing. Sub-characters should be the vines in a vast jungle allowing one to traverse the bottomless pits of stagnation which we are ever writing to avoid. If a writer has not listed their sub-character as PERSONAL, then please utilize that body to create cohesiveness in the story. It is far easier to assume that all sub-characters are community characters rather than vica versa, since personal sub-characters should always be listed, where community characters need not be since their existence could be very short lived.

Now that we are clear on what is expected of writers in regards to sub-characters we must address those duties involved in properly writing a main character. One may consider this needless but the fact is that some writers in a FREE FORM collaborative setting do in fact compose their main character more like a sub-character. Instead of adding to the story they consistently tag along, simply responding rather then elaborating. Some embellishment or historical addition is always required for without it your main character is more or less being portrayed as a sub. They are building on to their own character but offering nothing to the story, which can be viewed, more or less as a selfish form of writing. The repercussions of this is that other writers, either intentionally or unintentionally, will instinctively treat your main character like a sub-character by not attempting to pull them along in the story. Once again, collaborative story-telling is not play-by-post role playing where a moderator will guide you along, it is free-form (although some stories are otherwise, such as a semi-directed style) and you have to row along with everyone else. If you don't the boat will eventually lose momentum and before it stops you will most likely be set a drift on your own.
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