The longer Protagonize sticks around, the more I find it being mentioned in places that I never would have anticipated when the site was launched. I just came across this article on Psychology Today’s website via a recurring Google alert (which scours the web for mentions of the site on a regular basis) that I have setup. The article discusses how genius blooms in the individual vs. in collectives or groups, which I found very interesting. While the article only references Protagonize in passing, it was the context that intrigued me.
First off, I’d like to thank Dr. Simons for the mention in her blog, The Literary Mind, and in what, as I understand it, is a very prestigious journal in its field. I also wanted to make a quick point about the nature of collaborative writing that may not come to mind for those who aren’t involved (whether as an author or editor) in creative writing on a daily basis.
I completely agree that writing a collaborative novel, as per Penguin’s experiment a couple of years ago with A Million Penguins, is at best a challenging endeavour and is more often than not doomed to failure without the proper moderation and curation.
On Protagonize, however, the majority of the writers who comprise our membership aren’t trying to write novels, per se — they’re exercising their writing skills and honing their craft, trying to build up experience and learn from other members on the site. Not to mention having a little fun in the process (I hope.) The goal of Protagonize (and many other collaborative writing sites online) is not necessarily to promote the creation of collaborative novels, but to promote the act of collaboration itself. The short-term goals, from my perspective, are primarily self-improvement and practicing, with other more distant or lofty goals such as getting published in some form or other, or building up a portfolio of work to use as reference material.
Private or limited (invite-only) groups will allow for the creation of larger works of fiction in a more controlled environment, and those features are nearing on the horizon (I’m working on them as we speak.) Much of the intention behind the full-fledged groups feature is to allow individual and small groups of authors to collaborate on (and promote) larger, more developed works of fiction and have more control over the nature of their collaboration (if any.)
I’d really love to hear what our authors have to say about it. While there’s no shortage of entertainment and good fiction available on Protagonize, I’ve never thought of it, as it stands now, as primarily a novel-writing endeavour.