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Is that Even Possible? A Writing Experiment: Chaos Is Come Again with John Dolan and Fiona Quinn

October 16, 2016

 

 

First, a Scientific Question

Could two writers who had just met on Twitter come together and write a novel? 

 

Hmmm. 

Some considerations:

* The writers had never met, never even spoken to each other. Only

   tweeted. Though the question was posed in an e-mail. 

* They write in different styles.
* One writes in English- English; one writes in American-English.

   And thus, spelling, vocabulary, and phrasing differences - some

   of them quite significant - some quite funny.

* One writer lives outside of D.C. in the U.S. and the other is an

   English ex-pat splitting his time between Thailand 

   and Dubai so a time difference of 11 or 9 hours respectively.

* They were both very busy. Dolan was running a power company,

   and Quinn was homeschooling her brood. Both were already

   working on their own writing projects. 

* One was a plotter who has a love of spreadsheets, the other a

   pantser who actually broke out in hives the first time she saw a

   Dolan-spreadsheet.


The catalyst for the science experiment.

 

 

John Dolan

 

 

Fiona Quinn, a newby to Twitter, meets John Dolan, a Twitter proficient, because she did not understand what an RT was. 

 

This lead to Dolan putting on his much doffed Henry Higgins cap as he tried to explain the workings of Twitter. 

 

And then, there was a Twitter exchange of a story - line by line - which lead almost immediately to the question - is this possible in a larger format? Could we write a novel?

 

Background Research

* First, each subject had to read each other's work and see if

   they felt their possible writing partner could string more that 140

   characters together in a cogent fashion.

* Then there was the Skype session - to actually "meet."

* This was followed by ideas thrown about to see if the minds

    could interact as a team.

 

Hypothesis

Two strangers from different backgrounds and different parts of the world can bring their own talents and knowledge to the table to create a unique and interesting work of fiction.

 

Test Your Hypothesis

 

Fiona Quinn

Quinn and Dolan began the experiment in the spring of 2013. Within a couple of months of daily Skyping and numerous emails, they had constructed their characters and plotline. Dolan took time off on a sabbatical, and they came together to finish the project spring of 2014.

 

Decisions were made about spelling, language, and process and all were documented ad nauseum into spreadsheets (that Quinn had to be coaxed into opening).

 

 

Language/cultural barriers were broken down with exchanges such as these:

 

Dolan - You are a cheeky cow.

Quinn - I'm a cow? 

              I think we could start with a dictionary of weird

              English words - Yonks, Cow, Fanny, Shag, Twee,

              Loo... 

Dolan - The "cow" thing btw. In English the term "cheeky cow" (of

              which "cow" is a shortened version) is almost a term of

              endearment directed at someone who has made a comment

              which is critical but in a non-threatening/insulting way.

              Just so you know.

Quinn - I took it with a spoonful of endearment.

 

and...

 

Quinn - How do you envision Sean?

Dolan - * He's not a homeschooled nor vegetarian

             * He doesn't like anchovies
             * Size 9 feet
Quinn - Size 9 feet? That's unfortunate.
Dolan - Why?
Quinn - Oh... Hmm... Well there seems to be a mythological 

             correlate --

Dolan - I have size 9 feet
Quinn - ACH! I'll stop typing.

             NO WAIT!

             You have size 9 feet in European size?

Dolan - Yes. Well UK size
Quinn - Okay then I'll finish. A correlate between the man's foot

              size and his uhm “endowment.” And here, size 9 is rather 

              small...
Dolan - Ah, but my foot is only a size 9 when it's not aroused. 

             Whenever my feet get excited, they bust out of my shoes.
Quinn - Too early! I just woke up. 

              That's a frightening thought, Mr. Dolan.
Dolan - It's like a scene from Alien.

Quinn - OK, that's enough thank you. I'm off to wake the kiddos.

              L8r G8R.

 

There were lots of technical difficulties - a typical exchange.

 

* OK, I've been through it and accepted all your yellows and put a couple of red expansions. Wanna talk about the big blocks of green under Sean and Teagan?

* 2:00pm Quinn - yup.

* 2:02pm Dolan - On video? 15 min warning: I need to get something to eat shortly, OK?

* 2:03pm - John missed a call from you.

* May 24 - You missed a call from John.

* 2:04pm Quinn -  try again  it didnt ring.

* May 24 You missed a call from John.

* 2:05pm Dolan -retrying

* May 24 You missed a call from John.

* May 24 John called you.

* May 24 John called you.

* May 24 John called you.

* May 24 You missed a call from John.

* May 24 You missed a call from John.

* May 24 John missed a