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Write a story with a group of other writers

Writing with a partner? Tough, but not too impossible. But how about with 750 other writers, all with their own ideas of how this thing should work out? Yeah, that sounds like a pipedream. But the folks at Grammarly pulled it off last NaNoWriMo. In fact, they nearly tripled the challenge’s 50,000 word count. Mediabistro chatted with head honcho Allison VanNest about how it all came together. Here are some snippets from their conversation…


Q: How did it work logistically?

A: To make the writing process as democratic as possible, we ran two plot surveys (which received a more than 2,000 total responses) to help us narrow down the type of novel we would write. Through the survey responses, we learned that our group novel would be narrated in third-person. It would be an adventure novel that takes place in North America in the recent past. It would follow the story of an adult, female protagonist who slowly spirals down into darkness. However, with the help of a stranger, our protagonist would realize the error of her ways before it is too late, and she would avoid defeat.


With that in mind, the Grammarly team used some creative license to create a basic plot outline for 30 separate chapters. Due to the sheer number of participants in our group novel, we realized that writers would have to work on the chapters simultaneously; so, we assigned each writer a specific chapter and a specific day to contribute to the plotline in this chapter. Using Google Docs (a separate document for each chapter) and Facebook Groups (again, a separate group for each chapter), we encouraged writers to chat online about how they planned to move their chapter to its assigned conclusion. Each writer was allowed to write up to 800 words.


Separately, we ran contests on Facebook for participants, and others, to choose a name for the group novel and to design the cover.



Q: How is the editing process going to work? (Note: Editing has now concluded!)

A: We’re planning to have a team of volunteer editors review each chapter for plot consistency, and then we’ll run the text through our own Grammarly Editor to check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes.



The novel, titled The Lonely Wish-Giver, is now available for download through the Kindle Store for $0.99. Proceeds from all sales go to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

published April 29, 2014
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