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Jamie

Collision

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I guess I?ll address this to Jimmy since you are the Project Director, but any and all of your compatriots are also more then welcome to respond. And I?ll even start off on a bad foot by giving you the classic ?back handed? compliment.

I generally don?t like ?collaborative efforts? when it comes to stories. Even when it?s just two authors, I find that (unless they edit each other?s work and have a final editor smooth things out), I always have this feeling that it?s a bit "contrived" and not as integrated as I would like.

So far I have not seen this on Collision. The writing is extremely good, It is also smooth, each chapter (so far) has dove-tailed into the previous chapter very well, and I look forward to more chapters from the various contributors. (I have an innate suspicion that part of that smoothness is that you started out with some of your strongest authors (not to disparage any of the others please do NOT take my meaning incorrectly ? so you created a decent momentum from the start). Jimmy your work is always excellent and I have watched in happy amazement as Graeme?s writing only continues to grow in depth, meaning and stature.

BUT the real reason for this mail is to ask you to come clean and ?reveal? what?s behind this story ? especially since it seems to be a successful attempt at this difficult genre.

So far all we have are the chapters? without explanation. I personally would like more.

1. How did the project start? And who conceived it?

2. Who decided what chapters would be written by what authors?

3. How were the authors chosen, or did they simply volunteer? (and why wasn't I asked - hahaha JUST kidding on that one - honest!)

4. Is there a general plot line that was created that all the writers agreed with or is everyone writing by the seat of their pants, simply picking up where the last author left off.

5. How is it going so far? Are deadlines being met, are chapters flowing back and forth between writers, project director and editor.

6. Is each author waiting for the previous one to finish, or are the many authors all currently writing away?

7. How do you all feel about working with each other?

8. And what about the editor? How it going from that end? What does the editor think as he gets works written by different authors? Does it go well or is he putting in lots of work and effort to smooth things out?

Since this is a bit of an experimental project, I think it would be SUPER if you would pull back the curtain and let us know what?s happening: the mechanics, the emotion, the sweat? in effect ?the good the bad and the ugly.?

I?ll be completely honest with all of you when I say, had you discussed this project with me in advance I would have frowned, shook my head negatively and told you it didn?t have a snowball?s chance in hell. Well, so far you?ve all proved me wrong and I?ll step up like a man and admit I really like what I?ve seen so far. It?s one of those times that being shown the error of my ways is certainly not a negative for me, since it points positively to how a dedicated group of people CAN accomplish something meaningful.

I realize my questions probably entail writing an essay on the process, but I wouldn?t ask if I didn?t think it would help other writers ? either individually or if they also envision entering into a similar collaboration.

So folks? come clean. As the song from Grease goes, ?Tell me more, tell me more.?

Regards

Jamie

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As it is 3am and I'm shot, I've got to wait to take this essay on until I'm rested. I will over the next few days but I have to have a word with my co-conspirators before I give away too many of our secrets.

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Hi, Jamie,

An "essay" is being prepared. I'll start by saying that we have a couple of private forums where we can discuss things, and we're preparing our answer to your questions in one of those.

From a personal note, I was extremely nervous when it came to write my chapter, as I had no idea what I was going to be given to work with. As it turned out, I probably had the easiest chapter to do as it had been left to me to start to introduce the plot. I'll have another chapter to write later, and I'm already getting nervous (again) on that one, as I can't do much planning for it until I see how the rest of the story has unfolded by then.

I leave the rest of the response to come from James after we get the details together.

Cheers (and thanks for the compliment, too)!

Graeme

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James & Graeme,

I'm really pleased that you are willing to respond to my questions. Please take your time. There is no rush on my end.

There's obviously both process and product involved here. For the product I'm more then happy to sit back and read the results of your efforts and see the story unfold naturally along it's plot line. I'm not looking for an "inside" or advanced copy. I love to see a story unfold... the one thing I miss when I write a story of my own is that I know what's going to happen so in those cases I have to enjoy the process because only the reader gets to have the fun of discovering each chapter... so I truely relish it when I get that same treat as a reader.

My questions really are meant to hone in on process as I'm sure you see from the way I framed them.

From your reply Graeme it looks like this is a fairly detailed project... so far what I've read as far as quality indicates that. Why do I get the feeling that Mr. Savik's organizational skills are lurking in the background? :-)

I love the fact that you are using private forums to talk the story over among your selves in order to plan and execute the work. I think that shows in the chapters I have thus far read. You are all taking advantage of the positive features the internet and www give us.

As I've mentioned before I'm not a fan of colaborative efforts, only because I feel so many of them just aren't that good. This definately is an exception... and I'm guessing that the planning and process are a big part of that success.

I would also add Graeme that I personally feel you have nothing to be nervous about. Your writing continues to advance with each and every story you produce. The fact that you are writing many different stories contributes to this. I on the other hand am only working on one extremely large work... and that has it's own pluses and minuses. I have to keep within the same genre and remain faithful to the story all the way to the end. You on the other hand are playing with many different elements as you move from story to story so I say "well done sir."

I think that all of the author's insites who are working on this project will definately help other writers (myself included) not only in seeing this particular process of colaboration, but even regarding work done by solo authors.

Finally I would like to add that in light of some of the recent "negativity" that cropped up on the forums and Mike's initial decision to pull them from the site (presently reversed for now), THIS is the kind of thing that should be publically discussed - the craft.

There are lots of forums out there on other sites that pander to that kind of thing. I think that the forums on this site should be positive for writers. This isn't a nifty site with hundreds of authors and stories... and frankly I'm glad it's not. The only reason I decided to post here is that this is a smaller community of writers who seem for the most part interested in practicing, exhibiting and honing their craft in addition to taking constructive comments and criticism. (In other words CARING about each other).

Nasty comments, attacks, and negativity for the sake of negativity aren't very nice. I'd like to think we're a better community than that. If I really have a problem with someone on this site, I'll take it to them PRIVATELY. There is no reason to embarass someone or to make another look small in order to boost the attackers ego in a shabby attempt to advance their position.

Again thanks for considering my questions... I look forward to your eventual reply.

Regards

Jamie

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Jamie asked lots of good questions and I'll take them on one at a time:

1) How did the project start? And who conceived it?

When the Eggman left the net, I was deeply saddened. I loved his work and amazed that he did not know how much he meant to the community. I wanted to find a way to bring our little community closer together and build some bridges. There is no better way than working together to get people to know each other.

Round-robins had been done before so I talked (emailed) some participants in past R-Rs about how they worked. Their input was critical as I was able to use their experience to better form and focus the Collision effort.

Early on Robb (the CRVBOY) suggested that I "start something" and Graeme signed on. I posted open calls for authors at my three favorite sites: Awesomedude, Deweywriter and CRVBOY. Jan (talon_rider) was also very supportive of the effort and signed on as Project Editor.

My first task was to design a process that would give general guidance to our authors but would allow room for their own creativity. I created the setting; characters and basic assumptions, wrote the first chapter and then let the process begin! It was a process that we could trust because the cast easily had the talent to pull it off.

Robb immediately offered forum space and hosting for the project while I was still trying to figure things out. Even better, the CRVBOY himself dusted off his long idle word processor and signed on to do 2 chapters himself!

Truthfully things moved TOO fast as communications glitches and issues plagued the project at the beginning. I neglected to include Mike (the Awesomedude himself) in the early going much to my horror. Thankfully, he understood that I was a rookie at this. He is THE Awesomedude after all.

I was ELATED to get the volunteer authors that joined the effort. We have a TON of talent. It reads like a who?s who of gay fiction with established stars like Graeme, CRVBOY, Ryan Keith and Tragic Rabbit plus up and coming talents like Blue, Codey, Nmos and Plastic Reality.

So far it has worked out beautifully and we?ve all had a whole lot of fun.

2. Who decided what chapters would be written by what authors?

As project agitator, coordinator, instigator and annoying gad fly, I felt that I had to put my money where my mouth is and post the first chapter. Beyond that, I randomized things, patched things and made a few decisions on the fly with the consent of my co-conspirators.

3. How were the authors chosen, or did they simply volunteer? (and why wasn't I asked - hahaha JUST kidding on that one - honest!)

I posted an open call for authors at Awesomedude, Deweywriter and CRVBOY. Our lineup has changed slightly as some folks have had scheduling conflicts and others have volunteered to pinch-hit or switch-up.

4. Is there a general plot line that was created that all the writers agreed with or is everyone writing by the seat of their pants, simply picking up where the last author left off.

There is a document called ?The Game plan? that establishes a number of elements:

Setting- our setting is the city of Springfield. We use ?Springfield? like the Simpson?s use Springfield. It is your basic mid-sized generic American city and has most things that American cities have like a crappy cable company, a Home Depot and a Wal-Mart.

Characters- the characters are named and relationships established- who is family, friends, etc. This is done in some detail with the central character but I leave the others for the other writers to flesh out.

Situation- the situation is explained and some basic assumptions are made.

Authors have wide latitude to develop the characters, setting and nudge the plot along.

We keep things on track by having a weekly chat session where we hash things out and distribute a transcript. This is important because not everyone can attend as we have Americans and Canadians and Australians Oh my and stretch across all known time zones.

5. How is it going so far? Are deadlines being met, are chapters flowing back and forth between writers, project director and editor.

So far, so good. We?re chugging along at about a chapter per week.

One of the happy side effects of the project so far has been the cooperation and participation. Everybody has been so nice, people are establishing accounts at all the sites and we are seeing a little buzz for the project.

6. Is each author waiting for the previous one to finish, or are the many authors all currently writing away?

Every author is free to approach his parts as he sees fit. Some start as soon as they see the draft of the chapter ahead of them; others have been outlining what they are going to do for a while.

Everybody has their own style and style of work. Things just work better all the way around if we don?t cramp that style.

7. How do you all feel about working with each other?

I feel like I?m a player-coach on an all-star team! Any one of these guys can really write well. Together, we could easily blow away the staff writers for any one of the networks. (Yes CBS, ABC- yo mama).

8. And what about the editor? How it going from that end? What does the editor think as he gets works written by different authors? Does it go well or is he putting in lots of work and effort to smooth things out?

For the editorial questions, Jan answered:

Jamie,

Thanks for your comments. The original idea for the story is James. He posted at several sites about doing the round robin story and he asked for volunteers. We started out with quite a list of authors in the beginning. But unfortunately one or two of the original's had to withdraw. And I'm not going to name them; I have too much respect for them to embarrass them.

As far as the editing for the story, I volunteered to do this as I have been doing some editing for James and his story "Broken". It was understood at the beginning, that if an author wanted to use his own editor, they could. If an author chooses to so, then their editor is sent copies of the story so that they know what is going on. Some of the authors even send their chapter to another of the authors to go over for them before it is sent to me. This helps me as well.

When I finish my part, I send it back to the author, and the rest of the Collision Crew. This gives the next author the opportunity to start work on his/her chapter.

No deadlines were set that I am aware of. Most generally, a chapter is done in about a week. And sometimes, more time is needed.

I don't think we would be as far as we are if it wasn't for the behind the scene support of several hosts, in hosting the story for us, or in providing space for us in their forums to work in. So to Awesomedude, CRVBOY, and Deweywriter, I say Thank You. And at the risk of blowing my own horn, I also provide space for polls to help settle issues and I host the weekly chat sessions.

I've also suggested to James that when we wrap up the story, that each author be given the opportunity to express any thoughts they may have about writing the story.

Jan

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Thank you James for the detailed response to my questions. I suspected that a lot of planning and effort went into this and it shows. Also thanks to Jan for supplying the editor?s POV.

Once the project is finished it will be interesting to hear from the individual authors if they choose to make comments on the project.

I know that I?m hooked on it and will continue eagerly anticipate future chapters.

Regards

Jamie

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I had to dig deep to find this post since it's been well over a year for the last post.

THE FINAL CHAPTER IS NOW DONE!!!

I've enjoyed working on this project with all these great authors. I'm not going to list their names. I would hate to leave anyone out. Besides the authors published, there were several others who contributed in some fashion. To those of you, I wish to publiclly Thank You for your input.

Since life can deal us a bad hand from time to time. The Collison Crew had its problems. We worked through them and continued on.

As we know, this project was the brain child of Jamessavik. James worked with Robb (crvboy) in setting up a forum for us to use at crvboy.com. There we could discuss things concerning the story. I also made the chat room at The Talon House available for the weekly chat sessions we held to dissuss the story. I also set up a forum at The House for Polls. Sometimes, there were too many ideas to choose from, so a poll helped to narrow them down.

I believe the original intent was to release 20 chapters and as the time period between chapter became longer, it was decided to start to tie up some of the loose ends and get it ready for Ryan Keith to finish up. It had been decided that since he did so good with his first chapter, we would let him do the final one.

One of our funniest behind the scene moments was during chapter 2. While editting that chapter I came across the phrase, 'in hospital'. I pointed out to Graeme, that most americans don't talk like that. I got a reply back from Graeme accusing me of trying to "Americanize him." And since I had sent the editted version to the next author at the same time I sent it back to him, that author came to my rescue by reminding him that the story took place in Springfield, Anywhere, USA. Graeme apologized. Graeme, just so you know, I would never try to 'Americanize' anyone.

I'd like to thank Dude for hosting us here. As well as Dewey, for setting us up with the email address for the readers, and for hosting the story as well.

I'd like to encourage those that had a part in this story, and who are members here, to give their thought on their part in it.

Jan

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One of our funniest behind the scene moments was during chapter 2. While editting that chapter I came across the phrase, 'in hospital'. I pointed out to Graeme, that most americans don't talk like that. I got a reply back from Graeme accusing me of trying to "Americanize him." And since I had sent the editted version to the next author at the same time I sent it back to him, that author came to my rescue by reminding him that the story took place in Springfield, Anywhere, USA. Graeme apologized. Graeme, just so you know, I would never try to 'Americanize' anyone.

That's okay, Jan :D I'm sure you won't try to 'Americanise' me, either... :razz:

It's been a long project -- a lot longer than originally planned. There were a number of reasons for that, but one key one that we'd failed to allow for is that an author couldn't start planning their chapter in any detail until the previous one was completed. This is a significant difference when compared to a single author who can be thinking about future chapters as he/she writes the current one. Add in personal/real-life factors that can delay things (Katrina hit at the time when an author in that part of the world was due to do the next chapter, another author got sick at just the wrong time, another ended up moving... you get the picture) and the project stretched out a lot longer than expected.

I'd like to thank all the authors involved, and those that participated, even if they didn't write a chapter.

Graeme :)

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Post Collision thoughts:

As it ran WAY too long, it's a relief that the project is finally done. I'm pleased that it turned out as well as it did. As it's the first mystery that I've had a part in, I respect the genre a lot more. Mysteries are tough to keep realistic and surprising.

I think that we did a lot of things right- the gameplan/blueprint helped keep everyone on the same page. Having the characters, setting and a skeleton of a plot gave everyone a firm foundation to build on.

Using a generic rather than a specific location avoided a lot of chaos, confusion and research.

A Project Editor is an absolute necessity and Jan was a good one. If I had to do it over again, I think that the editor should be a benevolent dictator-in-cheif on a project like this.

A Project Coordinator is also necessary but you need one with a very thick skin. I burned out in that slot but Graeme came along and took over that function with the tact and good cheer that he's so well known for.

Things that we could have done better:

I think that in this sort of project it's important that participants have an understanding of the overall artistic vision. For instance: are we aiming for a G/PG/PG-13/R/NC-17?

The most contentious issues that we faced were how far we could go, what plot devices we could use and what various authors were comfortable putting their names on. If we ever do this sort of collaberation again, I think that this should be spelled out UP FRONT so that all the authors know what they are getting into. That was my biggest mistake in the design of the project and the source of the artistic differences that we had mid-project. It is to everyones credit, and Jan & Graeme in particular, that we were able to work through them and make it work.

JS

:razz::razz:

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Great job on Collision guys!!!!!

Over the past few years I have gotten into the habit of NEVER reading a story until it is finished -- no exceptions!! I have had to reread too many stories to regroup myself. In addition I don't read the forum topics either. I need to keep everything fresh in my poor old mind.

Collision has been on my "read list" for some time now and finished reading the story last night. I really enjoyed the story and thought the continuity between chapters was great. No "where did that come from" questions popped up while reading the story. The last chapter was allot to handle after the slower pace of all the proceeding chapters but still worked really well as the "bring together" final chapter.

It was a VERY enjoyable read. Everybody did a GREAT job and I thank you for the story.

As I mentioned above, I don't read the forum topics about the story either. Today I read this thread and am amazed at all the "behind the scene" activity. A lot of hard work has gone into Collision!! Thanks guys for all of your efforts! I really enjoyed the story!!!

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On behalf of all involved, thanks!

Now that it's finished, I think the best way to read the story is in one hit. The gaps between posting really hurt the continuity for the readers and those that have tried to following it as it progressed probably got very frustrated.

Thanks again!

Graeme :blush:

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