Live Novel-Writing: The Naked Writer Project

September 19, 2012

A writer lets the world see her new novel take shape.

Fantasy writer Silvia Hartmann has made the composition of her next novel, The Dragon Lords, open to the public. She’s calling it “The Naked Writer Project.” On the morning of September 12, Hartmann began her novel on Google Docs and made the process viewable by anyone with an Internet connection. Allison Flood, Books Blog writer for the Guardian, remarked feeling mesmerized as she watched Hartmann’s words appear on the digital page.

At the writing of this article, Hartmann has already written fifteen chapters, albeit short ones. She has posted running notes at the bottom of her document regarding the names and roles of characters (some marked for having temporary names), physical descriptions of pets mentioned in the novel, and links for announcements of her writing schedule. There’s even a “note to readers” explaining that due to unexpected popularity of the Project, her writing time has been somewhat compromised. Hartmann is also allowing her “viewers” to leave comments and suggestions about the progress of the novel.

“I’ve never done this before. I do have faith that if something fits in with my vision and potentially enhances it further, it will definitely be taken on board,” said Hartmann. “[But] if I have a character and I love him, and all the readers hate him, I’ll probably stick with him.”

Though it may not be in the running for a future Booker Prize (here’s the opening sentence: “It was not every day that Mrs. Delhany found a naked man in the driveway.”), and Hartmann even told the Guardian she plans to let a little of 50 Shades of Gray influence the new work, there’s something undeniably interesting about seeing a writer at play on the page. Imagine if your favorite literary writers let you see their Google Docs in-progress: you could view US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey compose the first draft of a poem at sunrise or catch Jonathan Franzen up late tinkering with some crucial dialogue in a rough-hewn new story. It’s overtly gimmicky, but there’s certainly some charm to the idea.

Source: The Guardian

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