This is something I wrote for something, but some people felt it wasn't appropriate for the project, as I suspected it may be. So this is my proposal for dealing with something that has been a recurring issue for a while.
The short-lived group.
Now two things we should get out of the way first; No group lasts forever. Groups die, and this is normal. The other thing is that just because a group ‘dies’ doesn’t mean it stays dead. Marvel Mayhem has come back from the brink at least twice.
Here’s what happens. A new group with a cool premise is formed, people get interested, write a few issues, and drop out. Some write more than others. Some are interested but never write story one. Why?
First we have to ask why make/participate in a group to start with? Couple reasons. It’s fun, and people in groups (usually) read the works in the group, e.g. being in a group can get a writer some comments, leading to a much needed confidence boost. I’ll talk more about this in a future post.
So if groups are so beneficiary and fun, why do some die on the vine? While some failures to launch, and even post launch failures can be attributed to writers block, or sudden disinterest, I think the main culprit is lack of direction.
Imagine, if you will, three to six people trying to write one novel on Google.doc at the same time, with no clear understanding of what is supposed to happen, or where the story is set to go. It would be total anarchy.
That is similar to how the current group system works. We have been using formula X for so long we don’t even consider there could be a formula W, or Y, or Z.
‘Well, it’s always worked in the past…’
Yes, but the forum has evolved. We have new users, new mentalities, and a spectrum of writing abilities. For groups to survive then we need to evolve our methods of managing them. Now, I’m not suggesting one cure-all here. And I’m not saying the current system couldn’t work for certain group themes, but to rigidly stick with something that clearly isn’t working as well, while decrying the fall off of participation is silly.
Hang on, let me emphasize a line there, because it was brought up when I posted this in the PM.
Now, I’m not suggesting one cure-all here. And I’m not saying the current system couldn’t work for certain group themes,
Are were clear there? If the current system works for you, then don't change it. But if you find yourself trailing off, or losing writers, then a new way of doing things should be considered.
Now, Marvel Iron Age, and Marvel Mayhem were both presented as arguments for the current system. I'm not saying the system never worked, I'm saying it's time to update the system.
Now imagine this. What if instead of having a bunch of writers write whatever with no guides or goals, and maybe having a crossover somewhere down the road, why not set story arc goals? Instead of grinding out issue after issue, do a three part origin to set up the character, and the immediate universe. Then plan the next three-five part story arc.
This would allow crossovers and major events to be planned, led into, rather than wedging the story around the event/crossover awkwardly, which I have seen happen.
Here’s another idea. Stop sitting on characters. This may be harder to do with an original character, I understand. But if you are stuck why not let someone else do an arc? And by that, I mean they get your permission, and work with you on the story. Killer Rabbit is my character, but I have let Imp and Tommythehitman write her, and they have done fine. Better then fine.
What does all this do? It gives writers goals, therefore reducing the chance of writers block. Posting in short arcs takes pressure off, and reduces the likelihood of the story/series ending abruptly. Seeing how another author writes your character could give you fresh inspiration.
I can see some people not jumping on this immediately, but changing the established way is often bumpy and not instantly accepted. Really, I'm not posting these as the only alternatives. I'm saying we should look for alternatives to group management in general.