Now we have AirBorne, “the world’s first chain novel inspired by James Patterson.” The concept is that best selling thriller writer Patterson will write the first and last chapter of this “crowdsourced” novel. The 28 of 30 “middle chapters” will be written by selected writers, who get the honor of writing one chapter apiece. Presumably, the writer of chapter 14 has to wait until the first 13 chapters are completed, or have a strong idea of what’s going on in the story, to pick things up. That fact alone must have made this project a logistically challenging one.
It will be interesting to see how viral and popular (and airborne?) a project such as AirBorne can get. While chapters are limited to a lean 750 words a pop, will people be keen to churn through it for 30 straight days — a lifetime in the online realm? And that’s to say nothing for the editorial challenge of maintaining some form of stylistic and storytelling consistency through a cavalcade of 29 writers (including one battle-hardened pro) telling one tale.
Although the James Patterson novel is more of a marketing campaign than anything else – and, in this case, the “crowd” is actually a hand-picked selection of aspiring writers – it’s still interesting to see such a widely-read writer embracing the co-writing trend. While those passionate about the subject may say this particular effort doesn’t qualify since it isn’t truly written by “the crowd,” it’s events like this that take the general idea behind the trend and cross it over to where it can make a mark on the minds of the mainstream.What remains to be seen at this point is whether a crowdsourced, co-written novel can actually be any good.