On Monday this week I launched Mind the Thorns, A Web Novel. This is my next writing project. Fashioned along similar writing schedules to National Novel Writing Month, it's my intention to publish a chapter a week as I work through the prose, all guided by the readers. Below find the FAQ posted on the Mind the Thorns page to explain the process.
What is a "Web Novel"?
Imagine reading your favorite novel. The main character is a cross roads. She can side with her lover and turn against her friend, or she can push him away and reaffirm that some friendships create bonds worth dying for. You read on knowing in your heart that the best thing to do is to stand with her friend.
And instead, she chooses love.
And you're left wondering, "What if the author had listened to me?"
Well, now you don't have to wonder.
Every week I will be posting another chapter in "Mind the Thorns, a Web Novel". At the end of the chapter, you, dear reader, will have a choice of paths for our dear Regan to follow. Does she side with light or dark? Does she accept her fiance's apology or does she push him away? Does run into the fight or away from it? Your choices will determine not only the next week's chapter, but indeed the outcome of the novel itself. This will be by strict democratic votes, with the author breaking ties with his own vote.
Otherwise it is up to you, dear readers, to help Regan adjust to life among the dead, and her lingering ties to her life among the living. Who does she choose to spend eternity with? Or does she walk alone through the night?
Why is this behind a mature content filter?
I put up the Blogger mature content filter as a precaution against kids wandering in here by accident should the story start to veer into adult content. You won't find any explicit sex in the story, for which I apologize if an apology is needed, but not everyone wants to see vampires or their ilk in even a sensual light. Likewise, depending on how you, the readers, vote we may find our heroine in some rather non-traditional relationships and some adult themes may creep into the narrative.
When I considered the situation, the thought "Better safe than sorry" was my primary driver.
How often will chapters become available?
Chapters are posted at 8am eastern time every Monday. Polling for the next chapter is closed at 6pm eastern time Thursday evening.
What are the best ways to follow the story? Do I have to come to this website every week to read more?
No, actually you don't. I've tried to set up a variety of ways to help get updates out to you.
The simplest is to subscribe to the RSS Feed with your favorite blog website or program.
If you are active on Facebook you can also "Like" the story there, and then receive updates every Monday when the next chapter goes live.
Are you really going to follow our votes and write the story as we decide?
How will you know when the story is finished?
My hope is to land at the 100,000 word mark or so to have a complete novel. However the plan is not to simply write up to that mark and then declare it finished. There are, at the novel's beginning, 4 different story lines presented in various forms. When the story arc that percolates as the "main story" is complete, so is the novel. The unresolved story arcs will just carry us into the sequel.
This is a really creative idea. How did you come up with this?
To give credit where credit is due, I am not the first to do this. In 2009, NPR reported on a writer for Dark Horse comics doing this with her own works, and the concept of the serialized narrative goes back to Dickens and before.
Why isn't this written as a collection of blog entries? Wouldn't that make more sense?
Yes. Yes it would.
However I wanted to tell a more traditional narrative. By not having this be a collection of blog posts I free myself up to write the story as it unfolds rather than sitting down and thinking "Okay, how does the heroine get to her computer to write this blog post?" Event though we live in a day and age any pocket device has the power to write and publish a blog entry, the idea of her stopping in the middle of a conversation with her best friend to blog and ask for help seemed to be a touch far-fetched.
For this effort then, the choices she faces are real and immediate with consequences that will take effect the moment her mind is settled.
Will I be able read the novel in print form?
When the story is complete it will be released in Kindle format and as a Print on Demand through CreateSpace. The Kindle edition will include most of the comments on each chapter while the print addition will feature some additional short stories featuring the characters from the novel itself.
Why do you have a special comment policy?
The Commenting Policy is in place to allow for the publication of the comments in the Kindle and print editions without tracking down every commenter for full permissions. If someone leaves a really insightful post that is worth including, but does so anonymously it puts me in a bind for inclusion.
Likewise there is the potential issue of creative release. I want to be sure that should the comments truly guide the story that I will not be in any legal trouble when we go to press with the Kindle and print editions.