An experience of team based story writing #ScribblersOrchard:
Blogadda this September came out with a very innovative concept "The Game of Blogs" wherein they made a team of bloggers (10 bloggers per team) and gave them five characters. We had to spin a tale around it. I joined it because I wanted to take up the challenge of writing a story. Being a blogger poplulary blogging about books and consulting for some publishing houses it was always a dream to write one myself, however the fear of landing up in mediocrity, of not being a good one in the first attempt stopped me. However this was a way to challenge the fear of failure and so I filled the form.
This activity was to be judged by a panel of six eminent authors with Ashwin Sanghi and Ravi Subramanian, my favourite Indian writers judging the writings of ours, novices, was thrill and kept the pressure on to write better each time. I was allotted a team where like every other team there was a difference of opinion from point one- the team name. We made a facebook group and I believe even a whats app group existed (I couldn't be a part of that as my cell phone was snatched from my hands on Delhi roads and stolen, I was very sad then and without a smart phone). However as all of us were on facebook we decided to discuss everything there.
Coming to the team name, I wanted something on the lines of The Game of Thrones as The Game of Blogs was inspired from there. However be it any competition I am stuck with people who have unidirectional thinking so "The Big Bang Bloggers" a cooler name (I think) couldn't be our team name and we were now the Scribblers Orchard. This name was thought of as the lead character of our story was a journalist and also we were writing a story so scribbling.
The other interesting thing that happened was our POC left the team the very first day due to some unforeseen circumstances and our tenth member didn't respond. Blogadda replaced her with another blogger who responded initially and then alas! two days before the deadline of round one she quit. While we all had to write this was one huge problem and that too at the last minute. However Blogadda considered it and had a criteria of minimum seven posts, plus we weren't given a negative rightfully as it wasn't our fault.
Now came the discussions, we had thought of four plots for round 1 and out of them was finalized based on voting of course. I being a PhD student in Biological Sciences am someone who is extremely difficult to convince and so plot 4 had to be revised and rethought an re-revised before end of round 1. All of use had different comfort in terms of timing and availability but most of us always were involved in the ideation and that was the strong part. Also we critiqued ourselves thoroughly which I feel was the USP of our team.
Our real story was formed at the end of round 1 where we gave each of our team mates the freedom to take the plot ahead as they wanted and I lived my dream of creating the ultimate, invincible supervillian Acharya. He is a character inspired by the amalgamation my love for comic books and Dan Brown. Our story post round 1 was really strong and we were confident of getting through to round 2 only to realize sadly that all the teams were sent to round 2.
The true challenge was Round 2 now, the ideation here was simpler as we already had the plot in mind. We followed a simple strategy "Divide and Write" . i.e. We divided the story to be disclosed per round and gave each one a part they would love to write. Thus went by round 2 peacefully. We were extremely overwhelmed to be on position 2 (with three other teams), so technically 4. I was happy but there was lot to be done to reach the position 1.
Our collective writing had been beneficial so far but where there are vessels they are bound to collide, and round 3, the grand finale where the climax had to set was the point. In the beginning we had to form the road leading to the climax which took two nights of thinking (post 14 hours of PhD slavery in my case). We had a couple of endings however some people felt a moral ending was the best one. I personally do not agree with the end that we have written as it didn't give me a high and I do not think stories have anything to do with morals, if that was so The Game Of Thrones once again could never be a good story. I sadly couldn't convince my team and so what we wrote in my opinion is a no so interesting climax but moral. I am not sure if morals are valued in real life but now since we have written that Voldemort never made the horcruxes as it was immoral, I sure as well hope we win. Fingers crossed.
Having said that it was good learning experience and I could happily say i gained from it . I am better at story telling now. I also have a better understanding of the mindset of Indian audience so I know what will sell in this country if I ever write a book. Also though I think too many cooks spoil the broth, and nine was huge number, I am happy for those that didn't participate actively.I am happy for the ones that did were very sincere (despite our difference of opinion). Managing to write within those office hours, sneaking during lunch time, correcting work multiple times (we had 7 revised versions of the final document for heavens sake, yeah that crazy) were the qualities that got us so far. I hope everyone enjoyed each part as much as we did.