Book Premise Deathmatch

MCMThursday, July 2, 2009

Next week, things will be getting very exciting and busy around here, so I want to give this as much time to breathe its own air as I can. This is what I like to call the Book Premise Deathmatch.

Usually, I do this process in my head, but my psychiatrist tells me it's not healthy to talk to myself so much. Quiet, you, I'm talking! Where was I?

Ah, yes. The Deathmatch. Right now, I have three ideas competing for my Friday timeslot*. These are going to be as insanely Social Media-ey as I can make them, and should be a lot of fun. But only one can survive. And that's where you all come in. I need you to vote for the premise you like most by visiting its 1889 Books page. Every hit counts as a vote. At the end of a week, whichever concept has the most votes will win.

(Side note: because I am in full-on fundraising mode, these all have money tied to them in some way. You may judge based on that methodology as much as creative content if you like).


Concept: Lucifer Clockhopper is a Myrian, a kind of pygmy fox is thought to have died out hundreds of years ago. The Myriad live in an advanced society underground, borrowing language and technology from humans, and doing their best to survive. But when Lucifer gets back from his latest reconnaissance run, he finds the entire city of Myr has been destroyed, with only a handful of survivors. As they make their way to the ancient Myriad home on the banks of the great underground Olyvent Sea, the last remnants of this troubled race discover there may be more of them still alive, and that the destruction of their home may not have been as random an event as it seemed...

Release: D'Myr will be an episodic series, following Lucifer ("Lux") as he tries to recover the rest of the survivors. Chapters will be about 1,200 words each, once a week, likely for a full year (52 weeks). Subscribers (one-time $5 fee) will get chapters as they're done, with everyone else stuck on the schedule.

Characters: Early on, the fact is revealed that there are 499 Myriad still alive, all scattered around the underground world. As a means of sponsoring the story, I would implement a system where you could suggest a name and occupation for a Myr survivor, and for $30 I would draw you the character and mail you a print. They'd appear in a chapter somewhere along the way.

Appendices: The Myrian world is full of linguistic and social influences, and has a rich culture leading up to its quasi-steampunk existence. I would write appendices outlining these elements on commission, at approximately $10/1,000 words.


Concept: The hero is an efficiency expert for the supernormal. When a zombie army is moving too slow to eat brains, he picks up the pace. When a rogue AI is having trouble getting its drones to massacre humans, he sets them straight. When an alien race can't figure out which organs to harvest for their experiments, he's got the answer. But there's one thing he HATES, and it is...
...up to you. You see, every episode of the Chaos Book is based on feedback from you. Even the hero's background will be a mixture of the most popular recommendations from the audience (via the site and Twitter etc). What's this week's dilemma? Agoraphobic vampires from Mars? Done! I'll make it happen, with as much action and comedy and absurdity as I can squeeze in.

Release: The Chaos book is episodic, which is slightly different than a normal chapter. Each episode will be fully-contained, but collected into a larger book (with story threads continuing through). Each episode will be about 2,000 words, once a week, for 20 weeks. Subscribers (one-time $5 fee) would get episodes a week before anyone else (as they're posted), with everyone else delayed slightly.

Custom Stories: If you really want me to write about sociopathic combusting fire ants, you could request a custom story for $60. If you don't have $60 to spare, you could opt for a $20 option that lets me package your idea with two others, making things even more chaotic. Once a $60 mark has been met, I will throw your story to the top of the queue, and give you a sneak peek when it's done.


Concept: Marjory Breen has been kidnapped from her kidnappers. It's really embarrassing. Joey was getting some candy and he left her alone for five minutes, and now she's gone. The worst part is, the new kidnappers want Joey and his seriously pissed partner Dan to jump through some pretty insane hoops, or they'll tell Marjory's parents who her original abductors were. They're forced to use a messaging service nicknamed the Ransom Line, where they're given their instructions, and have to post progress reports as they go. The trouble is, the Ransom Line isn't fully private, and they aren't sure who the actual kidnappers are, so they sometimes go way off-script trying to please the wrong people. But with only a few days before Marjory is killed, they have to work fast to save the day. Someone's day. It's a bit murky.

Release: This is what we call an improv Twitter story. Joey and Dan communicate entirely by Twitter (standing in for the Ransom Line), yakking back and forth with the expectation of privacy (which they don't get). Every Friday, the kidnappers give them another task to complete, and they work it out, live, for everyone to see. At the end of the day, the collected Tweets are assembled and put online so you can read it any time.

Interaction: Because it's just regular Twitter, readers can actually interact with the characters. In this context, the readers can be random passers-by, other kidnappers, generic criminals, or maybe even law enforcement trying to trap them. Dan and Joey (and the kidnappers) will react and change their plans according to what you say.

Ransom: Every so often, the kidnappers will demand payment from Dan and Joey, or they'll do something nasty... but rather than it being up to the characters, the audience will have to chip in to keep Marjory alive. If the target isn't met by the next chapter, they'll follow through on their threat... too many missed targets, and Marjory might not make it.

I would love to do any one of these, but there can only be one. Ask questions about them if you like (use the comment box below), and visit the page for the one you prefer. I will pick the one to do at the end of the day on July 9, based on the hit volume to their pages.

Thanks, and good luck!

* The Friday night timeslot does not preclude other regularly-scheduled books like Xander and the Wind. Timeslots are for serialized content only.

All content released under a Creative Commons BY-NC license except the contents of "TV" section, which belong to their respective owners.