Here’s an interesting project that will generate ample material for the next Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The World Writes a Book is a “Global Grass-roots Submit-ature Project,” also described as “The Ultimate Work-In-Progress.” Daily snippets of up to 140 characters each are selected and posted from audience submissions, with the noble aim of giving “everyone in the world the opportunity to find the fleeting [15 minutes of] fame that Andy Warhol predicted.”
Many, if not all, of the submissions received thus far are excellent candidates for the Bulwer-Lytton contest. I’m not sure what to call the visceral response to this sort of writing, but I think it must be similar to the reaction that attracts some people to television “reality” shows. It reminds me of the parlor game, MadLibs.
To get the full effect of this project, I suggest reading the work in progress aloud, preferably to a teenager. You may not get far before being stopped by hysterical laughter, but at least you’ll have their attention. Perhaps they’ll even decide to contribute a snippet or two.
Seriously, it will be interesting to see where this goes. It may even be a way to flex creative writing muscles at the close of day, though perhaps not before dinner. I don’t recommend doing anything like this in the morning–it will be a distraction from your Priority Project.
You may submit your snippets for consideration through a Twitter direct message to @TWWAB or from TheWorldWritesABook.com website. All work may be submitted anonymously, but you also have the option to link it to a user name so that you get credit for it on the Rankings page, which is a table of users with the number of snippets they’ve published.
Perhaps a copy of Strunk & White’s venerable guide, The Elements of Style, would be a good prize for this project. I was reminded of S&W’s pithy counsel as I read through some of the entries. Rules such as “the number of the subject determines the number of the verb” (Elementary Rule of Usage #9) have lost none of their validity with the passage of time or the change in media. This simple little manual would be a supremely fitting award (and I’d be happy to donate a copy to the cause).
Bulwer-Lytton must have been a charitable soul, for it’s reported that he said, “The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it.” So build away, if you’re so inclined. You might even win the Strunk & White!