So, in addition to the books and magazine articles and blogging and corporate writing and fighting crime I do, I have another project I want to tell you about, because it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and it’s something you can play with too. It’s called Ficlets, and it made its debut over the weekend at the South by Southwest Interactive show. It’s a collaborative short fiction site.
What does “collaborative short fiction” mean in this case? Simple: You, as a writer, post a very short (not more than 1,024 characters) piece of fiction or a fiction fragment on the Ficlets site. People come to Ficlets to read what you’ve written, and to comment on your piece. If they want to, they can also write a “sequel” to your story or story fragment, carrying the story forward from where you left it. Or, alternately, they can write a “prequel,” explaining how you got to where you are in the story. All sorts of people can write all sorts of sequels and prequels — and of course, other people can write sequels and prequels to those. What you end up with is a story with multiple authors and multiple branchings — lots of possibilities and surprises.
(And of course, if you as a reader find a ficlet you find interesting, you can always write a sequel or prequel as well.)
For those of you out there who are worried about what this means for your rights to what you write on Ficlets, you should know that all the words written on the Ficlets site are licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 license. This makes it easier to play and share fairly, and should also assuage any fears you may have that AOL, which created and runs the site, will do something nefarious with your text.
Reading Ficlets is simple: Just click over and read. It’s easy to contribute, too — if you have an AOL or AIM account, you can use that to sign in and get going. Those of you without AOL/AIM accounts and having no desire to get one can also use Open ID to sign into the site (the reason we have to have people sign in: Well, we allow comments, and we don’t want to spend all our time handling spam). Ficlets is open to all.
This site will fly depending on the quality of the contributors, which is why I hope that you folks who come here, who I know are damn creative, will come over to Ficlets to play, and will add your own ficlets as well as post quality sequels and prequels to the ficlets that are already there. I also hope you’ll tell folks about it; the more folks we have contributing to and playing in the site, the better it will be.
I’ll be contributing to the site myself, in two ways. One, I’ll regularly write ficlets of my own, ones that lend themselves to sequels — you can see some ficlets I already put up here here here and here. Yes, if you ever wanted to collaborate with me, here’s your chance. Collaborate away, my friends.
Second, I am blogging there at the aptly-titled “Ficlets Blog.” Yes, I know. Yet another blog. At the Ficlets Blog I will be writing about writing and publishing, highlighting amusing ficlets I find and also doing a fair amount of interviewing and promoting writers — my Author Interviews are officially moving there (and indeed, the one I did with Jon Armstrong last week is already there). Authors, editors and publishers, I’ll be posting an entry immediately after this one explaining how to get in on this nifty promotional action.
I’ll be updating the Ficlets Blog at least a couple of times a day, and naturally I intend to make it one of the must-read destinations of the literary blogosphere, so equally naturally I think you should bookmark the Ficlets Blog right this very instant (you can also subscribe to the news feed). It should be fun, or I’ll collapse from exhaustion. Either way, you’ll have fun watching.
(No, I don’t plan on collapsing from exhaustion — the Ficlets Blog and site come out of the same time budget as By The Way, so I’ll be trimming back there a bit, although I’ll still also be updating there on a daily basis.)
So there you have it: Ficlets! Please come by to play, and tell everyone you know who likes to write — and likes to play — to come by, too. I’m already having too much fun with it. Having you there having too much fun with me would make it the best of all.