A Traditional Next Step At PanHistoria
Life at PanHistoria centers around three things: creation, communication and friendship. What better way to expand your participation in the community than to create your own novel or reference book? A novel or reference book is analogous to a flowering plant in that you can simply cast seed upon the bare ground and hope for the best or, take the time to plan, prepare the soil and fertilize for better blooms. The experienced gardener has developed a system and a set of tools from experience and research. After participating in numerous novels under different names and creating three with increasing successful results I have a system and tools to share with you1.
Before beginning either a garden project or new novel you must develop and evaluate an idea and then decide on a plan of action. The first tool in my kit is a series of questions designed to help you do just that.
- Have you read the new novel guidelines and do you understand them?
- Why do you want to create or need to create a new novel?
- Can you afford the cost of a new novel?
- Do you have the time and energy to devote to creating and getting a new novel started?
- Is this a stand-alone or a companion to an existing novel?
The answers to these questions determine whether you are ready to take this step, how much work is required and how much help you will need to do so.
- Have you read the new novel guidelines and do you understand them? The guidelines not only tell you what you can’t do but what you can. It spells out your responsibilities to the novel, its’ members and PanHistoria in general.
- Why do you want to create or need to create a new novel? You want to rule the known universe or just a part of it as Emperor, Pharaoh or Queen. Perhaps the time period of history or subject isn’t featured in a novel already.
- Can you afford the cost of a new novel? A new novel costs ten Pannickels however, you will also want another three or four to advertise with banners, instant messages (IMs) and membership drives. If you are lucky writers interested in participating may have Pannickels to contribute to help with these costs.
- Do you have the time and energy to devote to creating and getting a new novel started? Generally the person who leads the effort is the senior Members of the Board (MoB) and has also selected a major character for them self2. You will not only spear head all of the planning and recruiting but the role-play as well. In the first few weeks of a novel’s life you want to be on-line and able to chat up writers via IMs and messages.
- Is this a stand-alone or a companion to an existing novel? Depending on the subject there may be one or more novels already on the same subject or in the same time period or genre. Look all of these over carefully as you may be able to start up a sister novel and recruit writers from the existing novel or add your idea as a new major story line to that existing novel. For example, there are currently four novels based in Tolkien’s Middle Earth sharing writers and instead of creating a new novel just for Tales of the Musketeers it was added to the existing novel Murder Most Royal.
Once you have the answers to these questions you can decide on a course of action to develop your novel. Much like preparing your soil along checking on light and water requirements these items will ensure a successful start for your novel.
- Experienced MoBs with specific assignments
- Synopsis and time-line
- Cast list with descriptions
- Resource list including URLs
- Novel structure
- Novel specific guidelines
- A place to start by testing your idea
- Graphics such as dust jacket and banners
- Sister novel when the new novel is launched
The more work you do now will pay off by allowing you to start role-play quickly and avoid the lag time that can doom your fledgling novel.
- Experienced MoBs with specific assignments are a must if you are starting a novel with little or no experience. Two are required to apply for a novel and depending on what all you are doing you may want as many as six. By giving each person a task you don’t duplicate effort or step on each other’s toes. For example, the senior MoB can promote the novel and coordinate the role-play, the second MoB admits and mentors new members, while the third can “pinch hit” when the others are busy or unavailable. You may also want MoBs to manage resources such as languages and research or a writing workshop. To find experienced members to take these positions you can start with the MoBs of the novels you are a member of, ones you like the way they operate. If there are novels related to yours, say others based in Ancient Greece, you can look at the MoBs of those. The Community Boards are great places to check for and get to know members that are or might make great MoBs.
- Synopsis and time-line are both planning tools and a required element for new novel application. Both can exist in simple or more complex versions, the time-line in particular, allows a member to communicate ideas and keep track of role-play. The time-line is fluid and changes over time and in the very beginning gives prospective writers an idea of the opportunities available.
- Cast list with descriptions a planning tool that you also use when advertising for new writers. If you are working from published or historical sources this is much easier to construct than if you are making things up as you go along. The list allows you to track the roles have been cast and what type of parts you have to fill. On Novel Ad Board you can set up a topic for advertising the roles you need filled. Posting actual descriptions works far better than simply asking for writers.
- Resource list including URLs is simply a list with links of sites your writers can use for help and research. Remember to include things like The ACME Web Factory for general HTML help.
- Novel structure or how is your novel put together. Where can your writers post their stories, questions, comments, or just hang out together. Take a look at both Troy and Changlings to get some ideas about the design. You need to know this before creating topics that can’t be deleted but only closed.
- Novel specific guidelines are additions to the standard guidelines that apply only to your novel. Created and posted at the beginning of your novel these guidelines will save you headaches later on. These were written for New Tales From Middle Earth and later adapted for Troy.
- A place to start by testing your idea without spending the Pannickels? Two of these exist, PanHistoria Junction and Short Cuts. Both are important and perform slightly different functions. PanHistoria Junction is the novel you are assigned to when a character is first created and there are endless posts of people suggesting novel ideas or looking for one to join. You may find that someone else has proposed your idea already and you can work together to create the novel. Just scanning the character names or using the search tells you if people have created characters in hope of a novel appearing some day. Leave a message at their hope to see if they are interested in joining you to start planning the novel. The Short Cuts novel is an anthology novel created for writing short works and starting novels to see if there is enough interest before applying. Once you join the novel access is granted to the planning topics and you can see what was done for Troy. All of the items discussed here: MoBs assignments, synopsis, time-line, cast list, resource list, novel structure and novel specific guidelines were created and reworked in a planning topic at Short Cuts before I applied to create Troy as a novel. Interested writers were asked to create the character they wanted and apply to Short Cuts. You can also set up a role-play topic and begin posting but remember to have folks repost at the novel when it is up and running.
- Graphics such as dust jacket image and banners for the rotating banner queue, small artwork to decorate your novel and such items can also be done ahead of time. Troy has a number of these items and for additional ideas see PiRamesses.
- Sister novels are novel linked in various levels of partnership with each other and help to promote, inspire and support each other. A formal program has just begun and is designed to assist a new novel once it has been established.
Read, read, read and then communicate! This is one of the best ways to learn and adapt or add to the ideas and tools I’ve given you. The Daily Index is a good place to keep track of what happens Pan-wide along with the Community Boards and take only a little time. There are Reference Libraries to help with information of all sorts available to you.
Go ahead and create that new novel. We will be watching and waiting to join your efforts.
Credits and Thanks: This list is far too short to contain all of those who helped or inspired me over the years at Ancient Sites and PanHistoria. Sadly, some are gone now or lost in cyberspace and they have a place in my heart not on this list. In no particular order I wish to thank: Bootstrap Bill, Wyatt Earp, UserMaatRa, Swanlara Ramesses, Hermione Granger, Elvina Herewood, Marcus Chapel, Eomer, Mithrandir, Ravenhawk, Captain StarCastle, Zoe, Taniko, Calliope, and all those who participated in discussions at PansDen Summer Camp. I am sure I forgot some folks, my bad.
1. This applies to novels only, reference books are another subject and one
I have yet to tackle.
2. Unless you are a very experienced MoB and writer one or two characters is enough work for you to handle. Trust me, on this one. The major characters are also your best lure to get others to join your novel.
Check out our newsroom on the community boards and get involved!
Featured Character Coordinator: Dr. Taniko Kishimoto
Featured Novel & Reference Book Coordinator: Amashelle