Friday, February 8, 2013

Collaborative Storytelling

Gary Paulsen photo c Brian Adams

Gary Paulsen tells us in his author's note for Road Trip that he'd never intended to write a book with his son, Jim. It just evolved organically. Gary Paulsen sent Jim a section he'd written about a father and son rescuing a dog, and his son sent him another section. Collaborative storytelling can be a great ice breaker with kids who don't think of themselves as writers. 

We all remember sitting in a circle in the classroom in early elementary school, and the teacher would give us a line to start a story with, and we'd go around the circle and add a line to keep the story going. But writing a story in pairs or in a larger group offers kids a chance to polish, to see which story threads seem to be the most promising. Gary Paulsen acknowledges the crucial role of the editor of Road Trip, who "tied it all together." 

Another recent example of excellent collaborative storytelling is Click: One Novel, Ten Authors (authors include Linda Sue Park, Gregory Maguire, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle and Margo Lanagan). Each author's chapter carries the story forward. Then there are strong anthologies on a theme, such as Steampunk!, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, and Jon Scieszka's Guys Read anthologies, Thriller and The Sports Pages. There's even an anthology with a competitive spirit, Zombies vs. Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (for a true treat, listen to the audiobook edition, in which the ad lib between the editors is even funnier than what Black and Larbalestier wrote in their introductions to each story). 

This could be a great way to keep the dark days of winter lit up with ideas.

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