In September, I wrote about a new start-up called Serial Box that aimed to bring television-style serial storytelling to prose. Now Boing Boing has a post by Ellen Kushner discussing the creation of Tremontaine, which went live at the end of October and has been running for about a month now. Kushner also links to a blog post by Tremontaine’s “showrunner,” Racheline Maltese.
The posts are an interesting look at the creation of a story set within a shared universe. Given that I’ve worked on my share of serials in shared universes myself, the process sounds quite familiar. First, everybody got together to hash out the details of the story. Then came the writing process, leading Kushner to wonder,
Oh my god, what have I gotten my friends into? This is a lot of work! We are spending hours together on Slack and GoogleChat working out the details of this incredibly complicated plot we saddled ourselves with! And arguing about which actor the duke should look like, and who gets to write the episode with the first kiss, and how the Mayans made chocolate and what kind of math you’d need to know in order to invent Celestial Navigation . . . .
It feels very much like the sort of conversations that come about in any collaboration—I’ve had conversations like that in Google Hangouts with my own collaborators, after all. And you certainly can’t argue with the results. The first episode is free, in case people would like to judge for themselves. The rest of Kushner’s Riverside series, to which Tremontaine is a prequel, can be found at Amazon or other bookstores.
I’m still not sure that the solution to getting more people reading is to make it more like television, but if everyone’s enjoying themselves, what can it hurt?