Chapter Book Wiki

When one posts a work in progress on the web; additional shaping and workshop.

The Original Plan:
-Step one: Set up a wiki with story chapters, orphaned scenes, story information, and discussion section.
Designate CorrectionSections and designate ContentSections for edit.
-Step two: Alert friends, classmates, and family to the wiki's existence and promote participation.
-Step three: Watch for new content while making note of corrected errors and following comments closely.
-Step four: Reply to comments, use new content to further the story and add corrections into personal manuscripts.

My Expectations
I was certain that I'd be able to get at least ten or fifteen people to participate in the editing/rewriting and discussion on my wiki. I assumed two or three of my orphaned scenes would launch off into strange directions under the guidance of the readers. I expected five or so comments per chapter and around five threads/topics well established in the discussion section. I expected to be inspired by thriving comments and discussions to make major changes to, or major reaffirmations about, my story and where it was headed. I assumed that with a work shop in progress as I worked on parts, would give me a compleatly different feel from the school workshops where I get feed back only after each section is complete.

What Happened
The participants: Autumn W, Nicholas O, Watch Maker, Ovy Goodwin and Micheal Papke (five)

Story Chapters: I had some comments telling me where the details thinned (though there was usually debate over this), or what sections were confusing. Some chapters had no comments at all. The first two chapters, due to some rather negative feedback are now in peril of being summarized as part of the plot, or deleted entirely. Since the story opens with Justice as the main character, and then by the third chapter we follow Train as the main character for the rest of it, it was stated several times that "the shifting between characters made it hard to tell who the next chapter started out with" as well as how "misleading" the first chapter was as far as individual attachment to certain storylines. This was something I'd never considered.

Orphaned Scenes:
As in class, the participants in my wiki as seemed to feel that "rewriting what has already been written" (beyond simple corrections,) was something that should not be done. They all had, what I term as "Wiki Phobia". Comments with advice on what to do were left on a few orphaned scenes. There was a problem brought to light: All of the orphaned scenes are in first person, and the chapters all in third. The revised chapter one is also in first person. A question came up: since it was decided the lack of transitions between chapters was not working for most, could a first person segment punctuate between each chapter for some summarization as well as character development? I tried to create a thread topic about this, but no one participated. Autumn W decided to have a face to face discussion with me aqbout this posiblity, her advice was to go ahead and try it, but also attemot putting the O.S. into thrid person. In the end she discredited her opinion all together saying "I'm not a writer."

Discussion Page: Despite my attempts to discuss specific issues such as lack of transitions, and the quality of chapter one, most of the activity that went on in the Discussion Page was a series of general comments. It seemed as though after each participant had read as many of the chapters and scenes as they planned to, they would go to the Discussion Page to leave a final opinion on what they'd come across. The comments were mostly about grammar and punctuation. One comment on chapter one suggested I add the main character into the first chapter. There were four comments made in this section with the exclusion of two I made myself. This was the section which disapointed me most. I thought that it would be considerably less threatening than the other pages since there was no work there they felt obligated to edit. It was a straightforward, and almost blog like since all it asked was to have comments made.

Things I've Discovered
-1) I've discovered that unless I had direct leverage over someone that they wouldn't find the time to make it to my wiki. Those who participated were, indeed, my best friend, my boyfriend and his best friend, a friend who owed me a favor, and a gentleman who fancied me. Even my family failed to participate despite my personally bookmarking it on their home computers and instructing them on how to work the site. Lesson: Wikis are ridiculously dependant upon a steady community, which is harder to attain than I'd previously thought.
-2) The idea that what someone writes is set in stone as theirs runs deeper than I thought. I originally thought some of the class members were a bit silly with their distaste for the open-ended feel of the wiki. This project has caused me to understand that I'm more in a minority than I thought with my wiki love. Almost all of the participants refused to edit any direct text, and those who did would not edit pages beyond mechanical errors. One of the things I was excited most about was adding the spice of someone elses writing to my own stale story. I've always thought colaboration was one of the best ways to create interesting art. I'm hoping America's sence of the individual doesn't run so deep that it stiffles collective art. Honestly, THat's the only reason I can think of to hate a wiki, is that it skews a sence of what's me is me and mine, and what's you is you and yours.
-3) This project also helped me realize the direct impact of one comment alone. From one comment, (though vocally expressed from a reader of the wiki as opposed to typed down) caused me to rethink my entire first chapter, posting an optional first person one, which caused me to later consider the first person transitions through the chapter, and, ultimately, decide to either abolish the first two chapters all together, or consider splicing the characters of Justice and Train together as one person. Whether or not I decide to do any of these in the end, is irrelevant. What is important to me is that I got the opportunity to begin considering these things.
-4) The immediate audience provided for my chapter book has actually caused me to progress further, faster in my story than I would otherwise. The immediate gratification that we have come to expect in our society acts as a bait. Knowing that the moment I click a button I can begin to receive feedback almost immediately spurs me to work harder, as its own form of inspiration, even though I never seemed to recieve emmediate feedback, the chance was still always there; my glimmer of hope.

I hoped to have this wiki work both as a workshop and as a collaborative writing project. In the end it ended up entirely as a workshop. In such a lax environment as the internet there is low motivation for participants, but there was still increased motivation for me, the author (though the lack of participation does become disheartening). Parts which catch the readerships attention end up soaking up more of my attention as well, and things like character bios were quickly abandoned in favor of chapters and commenting. I think this project would have worked better if it had a few years to develop a wider range of readers over time. The short length of time and the relation I had to each participant dampened the ability for the comments to be true and in depth, as opposed to forced, and surface level. If I started this over again, I'd try to link the wiki into search engines, or find some other outlet to attract readers in from the internet.
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