Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hey, Kids, Let's Write A Novel Together!

In "Bologna Book Fair," by Susan Salzman Raab (2009 July/August SCBWI BULLETIN, pg. 17), a consultant to the Book Fair named Carla Poseio, "sees the blogosphere as a useful starting point for a book and as a mechanism that can serve the author by providing the chance to see if there's an audience for a given book and helping to establish a base before the book is published. At times the audience has the opportunity to play a larger role by helping influence the direction of the story and by providing feedback on what is and isn't working."

Marketing trumps professional craft?

Could be. So before you write your novel, you blog about your ideas and if they don't catch on, do you ditch it? Or do you try to keep your ideas afloat and work out problems by inviting suggestions from your young audience about what they like and don't like? These young bloggers aren't following a format as they do when playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero. They're helping create a new piece of work.

Maybe this collaborative idea appeals to those writing high-concept fiction, but I think authors forfeit their most valuable asset - unique creative vision.

What do you think?


  1. I guess this could work for someone who is writing something awfully high concept. Maybe? Personally though, I think that craft should trump marketing. Of course we want to write something that our readers will like. But writing a book isn't "Choose Your Own Adventure". It's how the writer carefully puts the words and the story together that can make a book wonderful!

  2. This is the age old question...recently touched on in our own group...if a story isn't "marketable" should it still be written?

    For me the answer completely depends on why the writer is writing. Is it simply to publish, or because they have a story to tell?

  3. Thanks for the comments so far. I'm glad others question this way of writing.

    Right after I put this post up, I wondered if I was being elitist, but I see dangers in tailoring children's books to the marketplace and only to what young readers say they want to read.

  4. Fascinating post, Gale. It's excitng to see and review young readers' ideas, but in the end, books should open new worlds for the reader - worlds of different places, characters, problems , and the ideas of seeing people and issues in a different light then you had before.

  5. I love this idea. You can steal awesome ideas from kids--and they have plenty of them. You can present your agent with stats to back up the potential marketability of your book. You can break free from your lonely isolation bubble. It's all good. My only concern is that some joker would steal my blog ideas and finish his or her book before me and get all the credit.

  6. On first read, I thought this might be a good idea. But then I thought about why I write and it's because a character speaks to me or there's some burning idea that I want to explore. I'd rather follow my own muse than write "on demand."

    Interesting post!

  7. Hmmmm. My immediate reaction to this was "Oh, no. Never."

    But, thinking it over...there is room for everything.

    Take live theater, for example. To me, there is no more thrilling entertainment venue than a brilliantly written and performed play. But I love improvisational theater, too. And many improvisational troops take their suggestions from the audience and turn them into instant plays. They don't replace serious theater, but they can be wildly entertaining.

    The difference in writing a book based on others' suggestions is time. I can't imagine kids' attention spans lasting for the entire process. From suggestions to publication--same kids following throughout? Unlikely. But possible.

    And this would never replace a writer's need to create their own worlds. Just like write-for-hire has its place, but does not replace original work.

  8. Interesting analogy with the theater, J.A.

    J.L., stealing ideas? For shame.:) You could give them credit the way Virginia Lee Burton did when a kid gave her the idea for the ending of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. She names him in the book.