Collective writing: How literature is changed by the new medium

On: October 4, 2009
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About Suzanne Schram
I am Suzanne Schram. I have a Bachelor degree in Literature and I have done the Master Book and Digital Media Studies, both in Leiden.


There are many variants of social networking sites. Some of them are based on an analog medium. The use of the Internet and the computer has resulted in that the digital medium differs from the analog medium. Examples of this are online encyclopedia such as: wikipedia, Filmaffinity, Flixster, ANobii. The last three examples are websites with reviews of movies and in the last example of books. Those reviews are written by many different people. Everyone can collaborate on the website in most cases. For Flixster everyone older than 13 can collaborate.

Not only encyclopedia type of media are made digitally but also literature. Multiple authors who write together a narrative. Printed books are almost always products of collaboration, not necessarily in the sense of multiple authors writing together, but multiple people working together to produce an edited, designed, bound, printed, and distributed work. Yet literary culture operates in a manner that makes the contributions of those involved in the production and distribution of books, other than the author, less visible. Such as book designers, typesetters and editors.

One form of collaborative fiction writing is a wikinovel. A wikinovel is a collaborative fiction work that is written by a community of contributing authors using a wiki. The first well-known wikinovel was A Million Penguins. A Million Penguins was a collaborative effort by Penguin Books to write a novel on a wiki platform. It was an experimental wikinovel launched in collaboration with De Montfort University in 2007. The story may be contributed to by everyone, although a team of students at the University moderate contributions, in an attempt to keep the project on-track. There are other examples of wikinovels such as Wikinovel and Wikiworld for short-form writers. Each project shares the same settings and characters and is guided by a chief editor, whose job is to keep the projects on track, something other projects have lacked. started in 2008, and aims for a larger audience, stating that it’s purpose includes collaboration on short stories, poems novels, plot lines, and character descriptions. Later in 2008, METAnovel was launched, this project has no editors, it uses community voting features. There are also examples of science fiction collaborative writing projects such as Orion’s Arm and Galaxiki. And there are sites with a fantasy theme such as Epic Legends Of The Hierarchs: The Elemenstor Saga. Other examples are the collective writing of fan fiction, such as Mugglenet and the collective writing of a scenario such as plotbotTwo examples of collective writing on Facebook are Web Story 2.0 and Stories, on these Facebookpages stories are written collectively by friends.


All Together Now: Collective Knowledge, Collective, Narratives, and Architectures of Participation by Scott Rettberg. S Rettberg – Digital Arts and Culture, 2005

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