The Collaborative Writing Challenge
Laura Callender shares an article telling you all about the Collaborative Writing Challenge, yet another platform dedicated to helping authors succeed. Scattered throughout this post are images of the four collaborations they have published. Can you accept this challenge?
CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge) stemmed from an idea I had over ten years ago. As a young, struggling writer in numerous writing groups, I felt that becoming published was an impossible dream. I wasn’t yet ready to write a full novel, always fighting to get past the third chapter where a more comprehensive knowledge of structural writing was required. All the feedback I received on the content was great, I just felt weighed down by the size of the story as it grew. I lacked vital experience I needed to move forward, so although I could write a great chapter, I couldn’t finish a novel.
CWC gives writers the opportunity to become published without having to write the whole story alone. They also get to write independently, without having to navigate many different opinions, which is usually a big complication with collaborative work.
Since starting CWC, I personally learned how to structure a story idea, how to build notes, and how to summarize chapters so I can move around the story with more ease. I’m still a ways off from completing my own novel, as CWC has absorbed most of my free time, but I now have a full outline and am ready to start fleshing out my story. By providing writers with all the tools they needed to write a chapter, I inadvertently taught myself how to approach a novel.
What is the CWC?
I like to describe our projects as the ultimate writing prompt. Rather than being prompted to write a short, independent piece by a title or phrase, we prompt our writers to continue our story chapter by chapter and develop the characters while still having the freedom to add their own interpretation of the story. If their chapter gets chosen, they also have the satisfaction of holding a copy of the published book in their hands. That in itself is hugely inspiring to writers of all levels. It gives them that extra boost to know that they are part of something wonderful, and I’m told it gives them the drive they needed to complete their own work. I have also been toying with the idea of turning our process into an academic credit. We believe a scaled-down version for children could bring out a passion for writing in many kids, if it’s handled in a fun, exciting way.
It took me ten years to find that eureka moment and finally figure out a way to organize the project. Then, in just a matter of days, I had found 25 writers willing to take part from nothing more than an email invite. At that stage, I had no website or online visibility, so I was incredibly humbled that these writers trusted me enough to get involved. The concept is really well-received, and the feedback is always fantastic, even for those writers whose chapters don’t get chosen.
I never expected the process to be as rewarding as it is and hadn’t put much thought into what would happen after the pilot project was finished. All the writers involved had such a great time, many asked when the next project would be starting. So I promptly set up our website and created standard documents and spreadsheets to manage the process more effectively. Three years later, we are soon to release CWC’s fifth novel ‘The Map’, and two more projects are currently underway.
Now we have an established system, with writers from all over the world and new writers finding us every day. We plan to keep up with the demand and really establish CWC within the writing community.
How does the CDC work?
Each week, up to five authors submit a 2500-word chapter, adding onto the previously written chapter, and the Story Coordinator choses the best fit. The book is built this way for 25 chapters. It’s important to the process that we have a set number of chapters so we can guide the story to a well-timed conclusion. Our Story Coordinator compiles extensive notes to which the writers have access, and this helps them jump right into the story. Summaries of each chapter help them catch up quickly rather than needing to review full chapters.
We are really pleased with how well the process works and have hardly tweaked anything since CWC launched. Once the project is finished, it goes through multiple rounds of editing with three or more people, including our own in-house editor. We put a lot of time and effort in on our end because we want to showcase what incredible things CWC writers are achieving. They blow us away each week with such imaginative and well thought-out chapters.
CWC is planning to register as a non-profit as soon as the time is right to help us gain access to necessary funding to help expand our reach. We want CWC to become another well-known writing organization, designed to challenge and inspire writers at any stage of their career.
How You Can Get Involved
We are on the lookout for a marketing intern to join our family to help us manage the promotion of multiple projects, novels, opportunities, events, and outreach. We will also be re-releasing ‘The Concierge’ this year, CWC’s pilot novel. It has now undergone a thorough edit, something we didn’t have the capacity for when the project was originally completed. We felt it was time to re-visit it and bring our pilot novel up to our current high standards. We can also exclusively reveal to you that our next project will be in the Romance genre. This will be our first foray into romance, and we are excited to see how our writers take on complex character development focusing on matters of the heart. That project will be CWC’s eighth novel, set to start around June 2017. For anyone interested in signing up for current or future projects, please visit www.collaborativewrtingchallenge.com, and of course, for anyone interested in reading one of our completed novels, you can find links to them on Amazon through our website. We would love to hear what you think.
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Laura Callender lives in the UK with her two young daughters, who rarely afford her time to write. She is the founder of CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge) and spends a good chunk of time organising numerous ongoing writing collaborations. She also organises and publishes various anthologies, alongside working as a professional cover designer.