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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Reader-Written Novel

"Crowd-sourced" novel in the Sydney Morning Herald

 It was the neatest idea of the Christmas season. 

The Sydney Morning Herald invited its readers to contribute to the creation of a new art form, a "crowd-sourced" novel featuring a mysterious necklace, which was to be published over the next three weeks.

The first chapter was published on Boxing Day (December 26) in the newspaper's Summer Herald section, on and on the Herald's tablet app.

Readers were invited to read that chapter and then write the next one, submitting it within two days.

One contribution was selected and published as the next chapter (on the tablet app and online only, but still, what a great idea). The editor -- Michael Duffy -- envisaged a novel nine chapters in length, which would appear as an evolving serial for three weeks, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

There were rules.  Each chapter had to be set in a different suburb, be strongly described, and be between 1500 and 2000 words. The only necessary linking element was the necklace introduced in the first chapter. Each subsequent chapter had to explain how the necklace got to be in a new suburb -- given or sold, stolen or inherited, perhaps. The chapters could move back and forth in time.

And lo, the public responded.  The final chapter has just been published, and it's a humdinger, starring Cate Blanchett, no less.

You can read the completed novel HERE  Just click each chapter in order.

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