I had this idea kicking around my head the other day. What if you created an original world, whether it’s filled with Arthurian Knights, but instead of swords they carry pistols, or World War I was fought with steampunk airships and trench warfare was virtually unheard of, or even gunslingers of the wild west who instead of shooting bullets, had their high noon showdowns with magic and blasts of fire balls. Mixing and matching isn’t a bad thing, after all, some of the most interesting and creative works have come from mixing one form with another. MeLin Miranda’s Scryer’s Gultch, for example. Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Even Girl Genius.
Now, what if this fantasy world gained a bit of interest, readers naturally will want more. But we ourselves as individuals often can’t find the time to write, and exploring an entire world from the deepest darkest forest to the tallest mountain right down to the depths of the sea may become an absolute monumental task. Oh, some have done it in the past, but it’s very rare indeed. And we live in a world of instant, where text messages, replies over social networks and phone calls can be made from nearly every place on the planet. When you’ve got a huge team of writers for a massive production, it’s often funded through a major company or studio, so you’ve got the money, people and resources to create this grand world. But we (by we, I mean most of us who just write stuff online and maybe get something published) don’t have that luxury or privilege.
During the 70s, 80s and 90s, major computer companies clung tightly to the code which was the backbone of their operating systems and applications. It was hard to reverse engineer the software, because it was so tightly guarded. And then, along came a group which used a new word at the time. It was called open source. The background code was open for everyone to view, build, offer suggestions, help design and even help set up places for the software or operating system to be shared. Linux was a big shaker with this. For a while, many felt it was the thing that would crush the evil Tyrant that was Sir Bill of Gates, Lord of Microsoft! (sorry, had to do that) While Microsoft never took a tumble from the great wall, it’s considered now that any Unix based operating system is more a competing platform along with Windows and the Mac X OS. But that idea of open source created a lot of really good project. Office suites were made, including OpenOffice. Full photo manipulation and vector art programs were released. Even some games were made available for open source.
Crowd sourcing is the new term, but that’s something for later. This is all about Open Source. And writing. Especially fantasy writing, but could also work for any genre.
As I was saying before, not everyone who writes is able to craft the massive amounts of ideas that come into their heads. Sometimes they get ideas for including similarities to all kinds of cultures and wants to create a fantasy world that is a mirror of the world we live in. At least with the people that exist in it. Because, really, where is it written that fantasy creatures, or even people who live in fantasy worlds, can’t be as diverse and layered as the world in which we live.
There’s already a lot of very pen worthy (or word processor worthy people) who are very skilled with the twisting of a sentence or two to make a very interesting plot. They’re called fanfiction writers (we’ll, at this stage, ignore the often spoken of rather troubling aspects of the fanfiction library). They already write in someone else’s playground, the universe that someone else created. Sometimes, they create interesting new stories that have a different twist on the characters. Some stories are self satisfying, which is okay. Because even self satisfying stories find an audience.
What if you were a fanfiction writer, and someone came up to you and said “I see you really like my book series, do you want to write a portion of the world, based on the rules of the world with your own characters”? It’s not much different than all the writers that have crafted for Star Trek novels or Star Wars novels. And I don’t think it’s laziness on the part of the original author. I just think it’s the author admitting something. “This world I’ve created is really big, and I’m gonna need some help to tell all of the possible stories of this world. I know there’s a lot of really fantastic writers out there who don’t get the recognition they deserve, but maybe together we can bring about something and get a little attention for this world.”
I’ve been thinking about that for a while now, possibly doing that with the world that Black Mask & Pale Rider is from. Encouraging others to write stories about that world, and invite them to play in the playground I created. This idea even takes a step further. To encourage inclusion within the borders of a fantasy world. Fantasy books are essentially mirror images of the world we live in. They are developed based on the experiences that we have gathered and that we have had. Whether that be from researching on old myth and putting a twist on it, or by taking a real life event and putting that into the context of a fantasy setting to teach people a moral lesson.
It’s a big world, and not one single person can do justice for everyone that might read something from that world.