Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Get Ready For The Next Writing Jamboree!

Sophie from Shinola was a rousing success and everyone seemed to enjoy it so much that a lot of people wanted to know when we could do it again. The answer to that about the end of next week? I've got an idea for another round-robin writing exercise and I propose we begin on Sunday, May 31st. As with the last one, I'll post the start of the story.

Be warned; this one couldn't be more different from the last one. How is it different? Well, I'll tell you.

  • It's not Sci-Fi (I'm actually hoping for something of a Fannie Flagg type attitude or like John Grisham's A Painted House. BTW, if you haven't read that one, do yourself a favor. Even if you think you can't stand Grisham, this is very different from most of his stuff.)
  • Depending on how many people participate, I'd like to go for Novella length.
  • Last time, we were trying to get folks to add only 100-500 words to the story. It was meant to be quick and snappy. This one will be more open to interpretation, but each person will be adding a chapter, not a short bit that moves the story forward.
  • This one is meant to be a linear story that holds together, not the insanity we inflicted on Sophie.
  • I'm thinking that people should have up to a week to post their chapters, since this one is clearly more ambitious.
  • Also, last time, someone suggested setting up a group blog and posting it all in one place. I think something like that would definitely be appropriate for this if anyone can help set it up. Or, barring that, I could just set up another blog, then post the additional chapters as participants emailed them to me. Let me know what you think.
Here's what you'll be getting yourselves into:

The name of our story (and lead character) is Charlotte Misner. I haven't finished writing Chapter One, but here's what I can tell you about Charlotte so far. She's 23 years old and lives near Pensacola Naval Air Station in the summer of 1942. She's been suddenly left with two young nephews and a niece to raise when, prior to shipping out to England, her Brother-in-Law, manages to wrap his car around a tree, killing himself and Charlotte's sister after a Bon Voyage dinner. Charlotte's got a dead end job that pays just enough to pay her rent and put food on the table. She has almost no help with the kids.

I don't know in what fashion yet, but Charlotte's a strong heroic woman. Not necessarily in the single-handedly-breaking-up-spy rings sorta way...but in some kind of step-up-to-the-plate -when life's really hard kinda way. I intend to point in a direction and let everybody take it wherever they want to (within the set guidelines, which, I'll expand a little as we get closer).

At any rate, who wants to play? Participation is open to anyone with an internet connection and the ability to type in English. I think Sophie was a great deal of fun and loved everyone's contributions. If you want to participate, let me know in the comments here. I'll post at least once more about this before it kicks off, but, in the meantime, you can also make suggestions in the comments, as well. (The idea for this is still germinating in my head, but I've got a pretty good picture of Charlotte in my mind already.)

Anyway, I hope all you Sophie writers will take part and hopefully we'll get some new blood involved as well.


Unknown said...

Count me in. :)

Nathan said...

Yay! We're up!

Anonymous said...

I'm game! Although I am on vacation the latter half of June so I need to time my contribution slot carefully. It sounds like fun - I'm all for working on a coherent story!

Random Michelle K said...

I'll try.

Though FYI, 1942 (the year my Dad was born!) was the midst of WWII, and was the Rosie the Riveter time--jobs were really starting to open up for women, and more and more men went overseas to fight.

(here is one of my favorite pictures from that period)

My grandmother didn't have a manufacturing job during the start of WWII, but she did have an office job. And both of her sisters worked during that time as well.

So you might want to reconsider her not being able to find a job--there were lots of good jobs available for women at that time.

Maybe instead of not being able to find a job, she'll just be starting one of the new manufacturing jobs that have just opened to females?

Though the real problem came in '46 when all those men came home from the war, and women were no longer wanted at the jobs they'd been doing.

mattw said...

I'll give it a shot. I've never really tried anything in that vein before, so it should be an interesting experiment.

As far as timing goes, I'll be out of town June 9-11, so that might be harder for me. Although I should have my computer with me and no wife and kid to distract me at night...

I kind of prefered the jump from blog to blog format used for Sophie, cause I don't get that much, if any, traffic, but I'd be open for whatever the group decides. If they're going to be long posts, we could always to a behind the cut kind of thing.

Nathan said...


I purposely set it right there in time as the U.S. War-machine was just beginning to gear up in earnest. She works at a bar when we meet her, but opportunities should be opening up.

By early summer of 1942, we'd only been in the war for about 6 months...and we weren't doing very well yet.

Tom said...

That sounds like it could be quite an interesting project. I'm in.

One slight nit-picking kind of detail, though. May 31st is Saturday, not Sunday.

I previously offered a blog for this kind of thing. I'll set it up and get back to you with the details.

Nathan said...


It's a Sunday in Narnia.

Following up Michelle's comment...I'll do a little bit of research and post some 'timeline' sort of info for what should be going on in early summer of 1942. Obviously, I don't know how long a period of time the story will eventually encompass, but I'll try to post enough for us to be able to portray the period at the beginning of the story.

Tom said...

I set up a blog. You can go to to see it, and to Register. After you register, I'll promote you to Privileged Blogger, and you can post, edit, and most anything else.

Any suggestions for Categories, and if links are wanted or not, just let me know.

Random Michelle K said...

Well... you still may want to make it a bit earlier in 1942.

Don't forget, Roosevelt had been preparing the country for years for the coming war, so it didn't take that long for things to change.

The draft was set up in '40(?) and the USO set up soon after, and war bonds were introduced in '41.

I'm just saying that by mid '42 women were already working in great numbers is all.

Eric said...

It's always Sunday in Narnia.

I'm not disinterested, but I've got a bit going on and I think I'd want more details before I committed. Particularly, I might want to hear a little more about setting and a single blog would be easier to manage. (I wanted to hit everyone else's blog during Sophie, but I never had time, especially during the second cycle, to give everyone else the attention they deserved. Just so everyone knows, I felt pretty guilty about it, too.)

In terms of wanting to know more about background--I don't mean history or 1942 (I actually majored in that shit when I was in college many strange aeons ago)--I mean I have no idea who Fannie Flagg is and John Grisham gives me hives (thanks for the recommendation, but I have a huge backlog of reading already and will take a pass on a writer who has consistently made me feel ill). Drama? Romance? Comedy? Wacky local characters or sober domestic angst?

Hope I'm not being too picky. Sophie was fun, but it was also a bit more work than I expected when I signed on to it--that's not a complaint, it's more a matter of having a better idea of what I might get into, and not wanting to screw up the group by committing and then mucking it up somehow.

kimby said...

Count me in! And if we have a week to post, then my weird work schedule won't cause a problem with time!

Nathan said...


I'll post more about a basic direction we should be headed in, but as to whether it includes romance, comedy, drama? Overall, I want it to be basically a drama. If someone decides to write in a romantic interest, that's their choice and, since we're writing a linear story, that romantic interest would have to be dealt with by following writers.

I'm fine with elements of comedy coming into it, but I don't see it overall as being a comedy piece.

As to Flagg and Grisham, Fannie Flagg writes stories about women in the south (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is the most well known.) Grisham's "A Painted House" real departure for him and it's (IIRC) about a girl growing up poor in Appalachia. I remember liking it a lot.

I suppose, overall, I've got in mind us trying to write something that rings true.

I'm gonna stop commenting in the comments now and I'll address any additional questions the next time I put up a real post on the subject.

Eric said...

Thanks for the updated info. I might be interested, at that--but will you be mad at me if I wait to see your next post before I commit...?

Nathan said...

Eric, You must commit NOW! Without knowing squat about what you're getting into.

And you can't back out when you read chapter one and discover I've written in Emo Phillips as the love interest.

(Sign up any time you like.)

Unknown said...

I'll join in too. Although this sort of writing isn't what I usually do. I'll do it as a writing assingment. Expand my horizons and all that.

How long should a chapter be?

Nathan said...


I'll address that as well with a post later this week, but I'm a fan of the model where a chapter is as long as it needs to be to advance the it 40 pages or one sentence. I don't think I'm going to suggest any particular length.