Collaboration Web Serial

Has anyone done a web serial that is a large collaboration? I am thinking really big, like having someone create the setting and doing a map so everyone writes in the same setting(Real world or Fictional). Maybe having each person write a Character, and letting the story twist and turn as it goes. It would be a war of writers in some senses, as each chapter could change the story. A major theme would have to be set out of course. Any thoughts, interest, major problems that could arise?

The biggest problem I see would be scheduling issues - multiple authors won't always have time when it's their 'turn', which could mean a lot of waiting. And I have a feeling that after the initial enthusiasm, the authors involved would realize it's actual work and a commitment and gradually drop out.

It could work if the project was super short.

I've seen more collaboration fail than truly succeed. I think the major issue would be lasting commitment. That usually why I see collaboration fail many of them falter at commitment. I could imagine a shorter project where everything is very structured without a lot of parts to make it work. However, I'm afraid that a long web serial wouldn't work due to people just dropping and flaking out.

I have had this idea and am set to implement it. Equal collaboration would be a problem with things like pacing and reliability, so I think a single serial would not be the way. I've been meaning to create a thread about this, and it's still on my agenda.

I'm writing in a multiverse setting and the system I've envisioned is an open tie-in canon between collaborating authors, that way the primary storyline would not be dependent on any one person. Just collaborative events. Think MCU, maybe. I already have two skilled writers who've promised to work with me, but for limited run side-stories. I'm currently looking for original characters to populate things.

Ideally, more writers would embrace this super-genre. Build a pantheon. I'd like Compendium Fiction to be a bigger thing, personally.

Essentially, if everyone were writing in the Omniverse, collaboration and tie-ins would be seamless. And, I just find it interesting to write in.

I've considered it, myself. Part of the way I've structured my Price series is to allow almost anyone to create their own stories within the setting, with minimal effort. Seriously... there's drama built right into the setting...

Now, the effort necessary to allow multiple writers to work on the same project is outside the realm of possibility at the moment... but almost anyone could contribute a novel of their own to the whole. The hardest part in that can be summed up as "copyright issues".

I've taken part in collaborative stories before over on a place called Storium, which is designed for just such things (while also being a game at the same time - kinda.)

Every single one I've been involved in has petered out before an end of the story, though it could be because of the nature of the way the site works.

It is fun while it lasts and some of the stories are generally brilliant but at the same time it is kind of hard work, and keeping up on the schedule can be tough.

I think a bunch of writers writing the same story would be a bit of a nightmare to organise. Having a shared universe where each writer has their own character with guest appearances from others and intersecting stories that are self-contained but part of the same basic timeline, like Thieves' World or Wildcards, as an online serial might be a way to do it. Each writer would only have to write one short story every six months, but the serial would give readers a regular update, say once a week.

Another issue is the web domain. If one person owns it and decides to cut it, or stop paying for the domain, it leaves all the other writers high and dry. Maybe there is a good way around that? So the general feeling so far is that every person writes their own character and story line in the same world, with intersecting events periodically. In the intersecting cases, how do you write dialog between two people's characters? That would take extremely close collaboration, but since it would be people from across the globe writing together, how do you communicate well enough for that collaboration to work? Or would you just have events that all characters experience, but characters A and B never really meet? Is there enough interest to start doing something like this? I like the idea of having multiple stories in one world and posting them as a single web serial. Allowing authors to only write a post once a month or however it would work out.

@Hixon "I like the idea of having multiple stories in one world and posting them as a single web serial. Allowing authors to only write a post once a month or however it would work out."

Yeah, that's what I'd kinda like to see with Price, although not 'once a month or whatever'. The way I envision it is using your own blogs/whatever to maintain your own story, then essentially web ring them together. I'd be doing my novels, and anyone else would do the same, and we'd collaborate in as much as is necessary, but mostly be independent writers building the same universe.

One of my potential partners for this is planning to set his (first?) novel in Australia- convenient for me since all my novels have taken place in the USA, Canada, the moon, and some parts of the oceans in the western hemisphere.

Another's thinking Ireland for her go at it.

They'd be fully responsible for their own updating schedule/etc, as I am for mine. The added freedom and self-driven production should prove better in the long run, far as I'm concerned.


I don't think you need to collaborate very much. You could discuss things between writers, but if my main character is an alien from mars and yours is a mermaid, then i could have your character appear in one of my stories, written entirely by me, and any inconsistencies between how I write her and how you would have written it would be down to it being from my Martian's pov. It's just how he sees her. People have differing views of the same event/people in real life. I would have read your stories to give me a decent idea of what your character's about and there could be a bible that gives a basic breakdown of each character, setting, political stuff etc. which could be thrashed out beforehand. Similarly, major events could be set up in the same way. An asteroid lands and destroys New York. X,Y,Z happens... how does it affect your character? Maybe everything changes. Maybe nothing at at all. People could let an editor know what they were planning to make sure things didn't contradict.

I've done several. None have completed. I think the best way to do something like that is wild cards, theives world, and Medea: Harlan's world.

A world was built by a small group, 3 or 4, then another 4 or 5 joined in and created characters for the world. Then everyone wrote their own short stories. Some collaborated and built off each other, but most were standalone stories. Plot holes and inconsistencies are explained by unreliable narrators. and NOTHING gets published until everyone turns their stories in.

And... If anyone is interested, I've got a couple worlds I've built with the intention of just such a thing. wink wink, nudge nudge.

Most likely, people here won't be interested in joining such a story ring... I think we're all here to write our own stuff...

Though I suppose those of us closer to the top of the leaderboard might be able to convince others to join in for visibility's sake.

See, the thing about collaborations is that you have to have writers who "mesh well," both in terms of personality and writing. I've attempted many collaborations before, but none ever went past three chapters. There's always issues of motivation, writing styles clashing, and differences in character development that can make the entire story feel jarring. This could possibly work if someone managed to find another writer with a similar style, but finding multiple people like this is pretty difficult.

That being said, it's a really interesting concept, and I'd like to see something like this happen.

Collaborations are always beneficial. You take the effort and connections of multiple, you get a greater chance of success. Looking at a bigger example of this you get the MCU, which is itself the work of many writers, going all the way back to the comics. Its success has rolled into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Collaborations can succeed spectacularly.

It would seem people's experiences here have been negative, though. I once tried to rope my friends into writing a story with me a while back. It failed because people would write lazily, or badly, or completely off track. Once had someone randomly insert a scene from World War Two into a sci-fi plot. There was no way to keep quality and no one wanted to be a tyrant. Obviously, motivated writers are required for a good product.

Where I have seen success in collaborative storytelling is in play by post forum roleplay. Even though it's more awkward to read, it is a story with quality-control. I've seen them go on for years. They can be unfocused, but they work.

You need quality-control. If people are going to be sharing characters you need oversight. That's why, I think, collaboration doesn't really lend itself to Webserials. Because it requires people to be constantly around. It'd be better to figure out each writer's part, have them write it independently, then have them get group approval for its release. No 'my chapter, your chapter'. It's jarring.

If you're going to make it work, you'd need a few reliable people. I think, in the spirit of the MCU, solo stories with tie-ins would be the best method.

Again, I'd like to see this happen. Maybe not now, but down the road. Of course, there's always the possibility that it's just not logistical. We'll see.

I think there are a number of problems that could up logistically speaking and various ways to deal with them, but ultimately the key element will be the idea itself. What genre is it? What setting? What unique features separates it from all the other similar stories? If it's a good idea that gets writers excited and thinking of a character who would fit in there, that would go a long way to making it feel a feasible concept, imo.

I think that what Shaor said, that of Play By Post RP would work best. RPG are already exising systems that allows for collaborative storytelling, so a standard RP setup could work for any type of collaborative setup, with the writers just editing afterwards. I would personally be very interested in such an event.

I'd love to play a Play by Post RPG with some WFG authors. Especially if Wildbow was running it... <3

Speaking as a regular tabletop gamer, with half a decade plus of PbP format (chrys will back me on that)... trust me, it doesn't work that way. The vast majority collapse within weeks, few ever reach anything resembling the core of the plot, and you always have a few who won't put in nearly the work that others do.

A lot of people get fed up with it and try Quests... then get fed up with those and go back... then get fed up and... well, you get the idea.

Yeah, I actually wouldn't suggest a play by post game - not if your intention is for it be readable. Those are fun to do but any reader would know with a glance that something weird was going on, format wise.

I'm inclined to think the best form of collaboration would be to have multiple writers doing associated serials in tandem with crossover characters and worldbuilding. Leading up to a big event or the like which readers are excited about.

Using the wormverse as an example: You'd have separate writers following separate heroes and villains with those characters occasionally crossing paths or teaming up. With everyone available coming in for endbringer type events, writing those from multiple perspectives. Or, tasking a single chosen writer to it.

Ultimately, I think the issue with collaboration is making sure there's independence. Because the only time I've ever seen a collaboration reach its end was when the one who wanted to write was able to do so, even when others stopped. That's why I think you have to let people work independently for the most part. And that way if there's even one reliable person the most important goal can still be reached. The end.

@TariNari Well , that as everything depends on the people. If you have reasonably interested people who all come together at a set time, then the RPG will work well. But really what I'm suggesting isn't really an actual PbP. I was thinking more of a group of writers who come together at a certain time to quickly do something akin to that format, and then afterwards edit the raw RP text into something more human legible, which I think would be easier then generating everything yourself.