Writing a Novel with 300 Other Writers? Can You Imagine the Editing Nightmare?
Every November, hundreds of thousands of people participate in National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. This year, however, a company called Gray, which produces grammar checking software and runs a popular Facebook page, added a new twist to NaNoWriMo with a crowd sourced novel project they called #GrammoWriMo.
People at Gray managed 300 writers from 27 countries who worked together to create 30 chapters for The Lonely Wish-Giver. Allie VanNest, Director of Communications at Gray, explained that for each chapter, they assigned 25 or 26 writers who would receive a Google Document of their chapter and were asked to write only on the day they were assigned. They could write as little as one sentence and no more than 800 words. To share feedback or editing comments, writers could participate in chapter-specific Facebook groups or comment in the Google Document of their chapter.
By the end of November, the completed novel clocked in around 130,000 words.
Now in the editing process, the Gray team assigned 60 volunteers (two from each chapter in the novel) to view their respective chapters for plot consistency. For grammatical errors, Gray will run the novel through their Gray Editor. Finally, the Gray team will do one last edit.
The biggest challenges facing the Gray team in the editing stage are plot inconsistencies, which was to be expected since the chapters were written simultaneously. Other than plot inconsistency, VanNest noted these common mistakes #GrammoWriMo writers made in the first draft:
(It’s not surprising that these were the most common writing mistakes, as most of them relate to some of the most common questions we get at the Grammar Girl site.)
Since it was such an unusual way to write a novel, it’s interesting to hear how the writers felt through the process. Here’s what a few of the writers said about it on Facebook:
I generally have a feel for the whole scene before I write it, and it’s generally 2-3K [words] or so. So it was definitely tough to write a small piece like 800 [words], and not to be able to go for more! (Elizabeth K. Writes)
This was my first group writing effort and it was pretty challenging for me to be directed by others input, but it also made me s-t-r-e-t-c-h as a writer. I hate that I have to admit this, but it was good for me. (Cyndy Decker Glasscock)
I found it a challenge having to focus on the task of writing at a precise moment and delivering within deadlines (I hate deadlines, probably because I have so many of them at work, haha.) All in all, I’d do this again and I found it an educational experience. (Siv Gaby)
After the novel has been fully edited, the Gray team plans to e-publish the novel and donate the proceeds to a writing-related charity.
Would you ever participate in a crowdsourced novel?
Where Do I Use Commas? http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/where-do-i-use-commas
What Are Run-On Sentences? http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/what-are-run-on-sentences
When to Use Articles Before Nouns http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/comma-splice
#GrammoWriMo Plot Overview http://www.gray.com/blog/2013/grammowrimo-plot-summary/
#GrammoWriMo FAQ http://www.gray.com/blog/2013/grammowrimo-faq/