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About plotmash

Plotmash (n): a book written by a large number of people, most commonly via social media.

Plotmash is the book written by YOU!  Take part, it’s easy!

  1. Read more about the concept below, or just skip straight to step 2.
  2. Catch up on the story so far here.
  3. Like us on facebook and vote in this week’s poll, decide on how the story evolves and be part of a ground breaking social experiment.
  4. Give yourself a big satisfied pat on the back!

What is the Plotmash project?

If you were going to write a book, what sort of book would you write?  What sort of book would facebook write, if it could?  No, I’m not talking about Mark Zuckerburg, or facebook.com.  I’m talking about what would sort of book would the users of facebook write.  The plotmash project is a novel writing experiment with no hand on the tiller.  Or millions of hands, depending on how you look at it.

How does it work?

The concept is simple.  We’re going to write a book.  You and me, and everyone else that wants to join in.  That’s right, everyone and anyone.  I’m happy to be the one to tap the keys, but the direction of the book, the plot, the characters, just about everything, it’s up for grabs.  Rather than write a book we are going to let one evolve, right here in the petri dish of facebook.

Most authors plot their novels carefully, and pay close attention to how they develop their story over time.  In this novel the crucial choices are going to be thrown to YOU!  I’ll draw up a short list of options and then you vote in the poll.  At the end of the poll the winning option is chosen, and the story will carry on, right here on facebook.

For example, let’s say our book has a main character, George, and he’s just lost his job as a big shot record producer.  Where does the story go?  Does he spend three months on the sofa in his underpants, sell his house and move to India, found his own fledgling record company, get a sex change, eat some bad sushi and die?  YOU decide!

Here’s how.  On Monday the poll to decide the latest turn in the plot will appear on this page.  There will be options, pick your favourite.  The poll will close on Friday and the story will continue, the winning option deciding how the story continues.  Are you tired of George and want to kill him off with poison sushi?  Go ahead, it’s your story!  The following Monday the latest instalment in the story will appear on this page, together with the new poll.

So:

Monday – this week’s poll opens, get voting!

Friday – the poll closes, the winning option is chosen and I push the story forward with feverish key strokes.

Next Monday – read the latest instalment of YOUR story and get voting in the new poll

What sort of story is it?  Will I like it?

The answer to both questions is that I honestly don’t know.  I’m not calling the shots, YOU are.

Why?

Ah yes, the all important question.

Because I think it will be enormous fun for everyone involved.  I can’t wait to see what sort of story will evolve, what the combined creativity of facebook can create.  The true ‘why’ probably has a bit of backstory.

Do you remember the ‘chose your own adventure books’?  I loved those stories.  They always seemed so much more dangerous than reading an ordinary book.  That could be because I almost always ended up getting killed.  For some reason the titles I chose had only two outcomes – the ‘good ending’ and death.  Of course it seemed there were hundreds of ways to die, and if you wanted to succeed you had best mark the last page you were on and try again.  I like to think that there was something of an early life message in there.  No, not that there are hundreds of ways to die, but that the only sure fire route to success was to keep trying.

More appealing than the sense of danger was the fact that you were in control!  You got decide what happened, what paths the story took, the crucial judgement calls that could lead either to success or disaster.  Of course, it wasn’t quite wide open.  Confronted with the spooky cave you were presented with the option to enter the menacing darkness (turn to page 59) or run back to the beach (go back to page 14).  In all likelihood your first choice wasn’t there.  The option to get a bunch of your mates and some cricket bats and then enter the menacing darkness hadn’t been catered for.  But even with a reduced set of options, there was no mistaking that you had more say in this story than you normally did.  That on this occasion you weren’t just a passenger.

I enjoy writing, and anyone that writes knows you need a decent plot.  You need to carry the reader along with you and engage them in your story.  This is important, because like it or not the reader has no say in what’s happening.  But why shouldn’t they?  I say they should, and so I started thinking about how to write a book with the masses in the driving seat.  Without social media it wouldn’t be possible, but with some of the simplest tools in the social media toolbelt (polls, rss feeds, and the odd judicious wall posts), a whole world of possibilities opens up.

I want to be involved!

That’s fabulous!  The more the merrier, and it’s really very easy.  Just:

  1. Like our facebook page, so you can keep in touch with us and vote in the weekly poll
  2. Catch up on the story
  3. Vote in the poll (if it’s a week day), or check out this week’s winner if it’s the weekend (and look forward to Monday’s instalment
  4.  Tell all your friends and invite them to take part
  5. Whoop!
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