Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Open Source Stories

From time to time, I come up with an idea I like for a story that I have no interest in writing. It eventually occurred to me that someone else might want to write one of them, so I put a page of story ideas up on my web site.

As you can see by going to the page, at least three people have now sent me stories they wrote based on my ideas and given me permission to web them. What I find particularly satisfying is that in some cases the author took the story in a direction that had never occurred to me, and it worked.

19 Comments:

At 4:12 PM, December 01, 2010, Blogger Areg said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4:20 PM, December 01, 2010, Blogger Areg said...

Regarding "How to Live Forever": how did you like Inception (assuming you saw it)?

 
At 6:24 PM, December 01, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This kind of idea would only work in the internet - in real life the copyright issues would mean endless legal battle.

 
At 11:06 PM, December 01, 2010, Anonymous Henry said...

"This kind of idea would only work in the internet - in real life the copyright issues would mean endless legal battle.'

It does happen to varying degrees, with co-authorship and ghostwriting. A for-profit version of precisely what David is doing probably wouldn't work though, because his basic ideas probably aren't copyrightable.

On a related topic, I wonder why we see plenty of division of labour in some creative areas (e.g. television) but much less in others (e.g. stand-up comedy). Why do comic actors have a team of writers before them, but comic performers almost always write their own material? My guess is that we want stand-up comedians to be a funny "complete package", but why this would be the case I am not sure.

 
At 11:07 PM, December 01, 2010, Anonymous Henry said...

"This kind of idea would only work in the internet - in real life the copyright issues would mean endless legal battle.'

It does happen to varying degrees, with co-authorship and ghostwriting. A for-profit version of precisely what David is doing probably wouldn't work though, because his basic ideas probably aren't copyrightable.

On a related topic, I wonder why we see plenty of division of labour in some creative areas (e.g. television) but much less in others (e.g. stand-up comedy). Why do comic actors have a team of writers before them, but comic performers almost always write their own material? My guess is that we want stand-up comedians to be a funny "complete package", but why this would be the case I am not sure.

 
At 11:32 PM, December 01, 2010, Blogger Jonathan said...

Good ideas!

The first one, about the stasis box, was used in a slightly different way in Robert Sheckley's 'A ticket to Tranai' (1955). If you haven't read it already, do give it a try: I think you'd like it. It doesn't invalidate your idea, which is sufficiently different to be worth using.

 
At 5:31 AM, December 02, 2010, Anonymous virtualDavis said...

A perfectly grand idea. I've often prattled on about the concept of open source storytelling, so your idea's familiar. But taking the next step of sharing your story seeds is clever and generous. I hope you enjoy the act of reading another's story grown of your seed! And then multiple versions too...

 
At 11:29 AM, December 02, 2010, Blogger Ilíon said...

On the "Extended Child Care" idea –

There is an old short-story (I recall not by whom) of a society on some distant planet (and of a man from our society who married a woman from that society) in which a "successful" man was expected to keep his wife in stasis except for special occasions, such that when he died of old age -- and she inherited his wealth -- she was still young enough to enjoy spending his money on gigolos.

As I recall, it was not a happy ending for the Earthman.

 
At 10:32 PM, December 02, 2010, Blogger Nadav said...

Your page contains many excellent ideas. What if you took the open-source thing a step further and accepted other people's story ideas? You would screen the ideas based on whether they were to your taste (i.e. you wanted to see stories written from them)--so the final results would always have that "David Friedman feel" at least in their conceptual foundation.

 
At 11:15 PM, December 02, 2010, Blogger Jonathan said...

I think Ilíon is also remembering 'A ticket to Tranai', although the memory seems slightly distorted.

 
At 5:32 AM, December 03, 2010, Blogger Ilíon said...

"I think Ilíon is also remembering 'A ticket to Tranai', although the memory seems slightly distorted."

I Googled 'A ticket to Tranai' after I saw your previous post. Assuming that the brief synopsis is correct (of which story, by the way, I also read as a child), then, no, I am not misremembering 'A ticket to Tranai'

The story I mentioned is a quite different one, but I have no idea what it is called or who wrote it.

 
At 5:38 AM, December 03, 2010, Blogger Ilíon said...

(Assuming that brief sysopsis referred to the proper story) In 'A Ticket to Tranai,' the "leading citizens" convince a visitor from a different culture (apparently ours, or one like it) that they would be most honored were he to assume the Executive office of their State -- they just don't tell him about the nature of the "medallion of office" until theu have it around his neck.

 
At 5:41 AM, December 03, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When The Phantom Menace came out some fans were furious with some scenes and created their own edits which many fans preferred. Even though few people are talented directors there are many with basic ideas that can sometimes improve a hit movie. The problem with this is that you can't re-film scenes very easily. But open source computer animations (as they get more and more popular) can easily be modified by many honing in closer to the perfect movie. I think we'll start to see an improvement of the quality of movies/storytelling and the movie industry threatened by the ideas of thousands of experts.

 
At 9:54 AM, December 03, 2010, Blogger David Friedman said...

The problem with running the process in the other direction is:

1. I would rather write novels than short stories.

2. I tend to have plenty of story ideas, but a shortage of what it would take to fill them out as good stories.

 
At 2:58 PM, December 03, 2010, Blogger Jonathan said...

'A ticket to Tranai' packed a lot of wacky ideas into a short story, including the idea of a national leader with a bomb round his neck, the idea of obtaining government income by armed robbery (come to think of it, this is not so unusual), and the idea of keeping wives in stasis during periods of time when they might otherwise be bored.

 
At 7:04 PM, December 03, 2010, Anonymous Rex Little said...

An extreme version of your "childhood innocence" idea is P.J. Plauger's 1975 story, "Child of All Ages." It features a girl gains immortality just before she would have hit puberty, and never ages beyond that point though hundreds of years pass.

 
At 12:00 AM, December 04, 2010, Blogger Jonathan said...

Rex: Yes, I should have thought of that. 'Child of all ages' is another of my favourite stories.

 
At 1:19 PM, August 27, 2011, Blogger Seth said...

David,
I have been kicking the concept around for developing a GNU distributed rights opensource IdeaBank for developers of nearly anything that starts with 'an idea'. Foremost on my mind is hands-off idea 'seeds' for stories/novels/worlds. While it seems at first like there would be 'endless legal battles' its honestly not as complicated as you think, and software companies do it every day.

If you have any twinkle of seriousness about doing something like this I would be more than willing to discuss it further. I am in the midst of developing a Opensource Limited Rights community site for just this very thing. i.e. you can contribute top-level world generation brainstorms, branch off of one concept and develop a whole new sub-story, do illustrations, whatever. The rights-management is still under development but it is going to be rather simple. Right-managed intellectual property is where its at, not so much 'copywrite' anymore.

 
At 2:27 PM, September 26, 2011, Anonymous meika said...

I had this same idea last night and found this blog by way of my resolution to google all "great ideas" I have to see if they have been done already.

What I am hoping to find is the equivalent of open software development sites to which I can "release the code" of a part written novel, not just the idea, but 60 000 words too.

 

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