Introduction: An experiment

I want to conduct an experiment.

We often think of written fiction as timeless, crafted for history. I want to write extremely timely fiction, nearly ephemeral. I want to write a story not just set in the present, but set in this very week. Almost real-time. A serialized narrative that keeps up with the events of our world and weaves them into its tale as it goes.

But also, I want to conduct an experiment with you.

We often think of the author as a solitary creator, laboring alone. It is only the author’s vision that is realized in written fiction. Where so many other art forms involve some element of collaboration, writing down stories is a one woman or one man endeavor. In this project I want to write a story with your help.

This how it’s going to work: For the month of March I’m going to tell a story in episodes. We’ll start once a week and then they’ll get more frequent. Each episode will be posted into this collection here on Medium. And each and every episode will include the opportunity for you to contribute to the story. It’ll look just like this:

Give me a sentence to include in the first episode.

Go ahead, click that. You’ll be able to send me a Tweet from right in the story with your suggestions for the next one. I may not be able to include every single thing folks send me, but I’ll include as many as I can. Every time I use a suggestion it’ll look like this. These suggestions will be a part of the fabric of the story, and sometimes they’ll be big decisions. For example, my main character’s name will be Monica. UPDATE: Also, you can use the “note” features in Medium to make suggestions, right over there on the right.

What should Monica’s last name be?

See? That was easy. For some reason, I love piecing together a fiction puzzle like this: your suggestions + real world events + a narrative arc. It’s a fun challenge for me as a writer, but also, with little doses of your creativity, it’s inspiring.

What’s your favorite word? I’ll work it in!

Now for the next couple of days I’ll be busy collecting those Tweets and writing up the first episode. You should expect to see it Monday morning. What will the story be about? Well, I don’t want to give too much away, but it begins in a newsroom in New York. A New York that is pretty much our New York, but for one very big difference…