Guest Post from Grammarly: Is Group Writing the Wave of the Future?

Let’s face it – for even the most seasoned writers among us, it is difficult to find the time and inspiration to write a publishable novel. In addition to deciding what type of novel to write, we need to develop a series of believable characters and orchestrate their participation in an interesting story. Then we need to start writing.

Typically, novels are penned by a single author and can be divided into three categories:

1. Genre fiction includes romance novels, thrillers, mystery novels, and more.
2. Literary novels are popular pieces of fiction that have typically earned some acclaim. Many literary novels are assigned reading in high school or college, and some have even been deemed “classics.”
3. Mainstream fiction (think: Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, etc.).

Thinking about the type of novel you want to write can be as overwhelming as actually writing it, so many writers seek inspiration before they begin to write by reading voraciously. Samuel Johnson, a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer, said: “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”

Other writers find inspiration in begin held accountable for their work. Many participate in writing groups, forums, or national writing events such as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an event that takes place every November to hold writers accountable for writing at least 50,000 words. As part of NaNoWriMo, writers report their progress and become inspired by other writers to complete the first draft of a novel.

However, despite the adequate inspiration and accountability, some writers simple do not have the time to complete a full novel. For these writers, there is collaborative fiction. Collaborative fiction involves two or more authors sharing creative control of a story. The best example of collaborative fiction is Caverns, a 1989 novel written collaboratively as an experiment by Ken Kesey and a creative writing class that he taught at the University of Oregon. Another example is the novel, No Rest for the Dead, in which 26 best-selling crime writers teamed up to create a mystery story.

Grammarly, an automated proofreading company, is in the process of completing its second annual collaborative writing event, GrammoWriMo. GrammoWriMo is open to all writers, and has been an attractive option for those who want to be involved in writing a novel – but simply do not have the time to complete the piece on their own.

In November 2013, around 300 writers from 27 countries (and 44 U.S. states) worked together with Grammarly to write a group novel during NaNoWriMo. The resulting book clocked in at a total of 130,927 unedited words, and was among the 41,940 novels completed! Writers and participants of GrammoWriMo have reviewed the book, and their experience writing it, on Amazon.

In November 2014, 496 writers from 54 countries signed up to participate in the group-writing event. Together, these writers drafted 38,093 words and three pending vignettes to be added to the novel.

Although the future of collaborative writing remains to be seen, it is clear that many writers appreciate the opportunity to work with others to complete the time-consuming task of writing and publishing a complete novel. Many hands make short work, and the initial success of a group novel often inspires writers to go forward in writing their own novel.

Do you find inspiration in your writing through others? Are collaboratively written novels the wave of the future?

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