Monday, August 3, 2009

Ficly

I've been trying my hand at shorter works of fiction lately, and I have to say it seems to be rather catching.

Instead of working on material I can submit to publishers, I've become a bit addicted to Ficly, a little site for little stories.

Ficly reminds me quite a bit of open source software. In 1024 characters (roughly 190 - 200 words) or less, an author writes a piece of flash fiction and publishes it on the site. This story can be as rough or as polished as the author wants, as professional or draft-form, as highbrow or juvenile. There are no guidelines save for the arbitrary character limit and the use of non-proprietary characters (which is often broken). Readers can rate these stories on a scale from one to five or leave comments without rating it at all.

Here’s the interesting part. Other users can come along and write a prequel or sequel to any story on the site. One of my own stories, “The Anything-Goes Call In Show,” was recently continued by someone other than myself. It didn’t keep the dialogue-only style of the original, but it certainly was interesting. There’s something both surreal and highly entertaining about seeing someone else continue something you yourself started.

The only drawback to this site is that I feel compelled to do my best there, and a lot of work that I could have submitted to actual publications for real money (or real contributor’s copies) are now online and considered published and, thus, ineligible for submission. The above referenced story is something I’ve come to be incredibly proud of over the last few weeks, and there’s no way for me to find it a publisher now. It’s a small price to pay, though, for the fun and community that is Ficly.

I’m sure I can come up with other work to shop around, though the temptation of immediate readership and critique over on Ficly will always be there.

17 comments:

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Hi,

I found this through How Publishing Really Works (I couldn't resist coming over after you left such a nice comment). I will most definitely be coming back. It's a long time since I met anyone who listed Taichi Yamada as one of their faves (one of the characters in my interactive Facebook novel The Man Who Painted Agneiszka's Shoes is caleld Taichi after the author).

Love the mix of literature, film and The Prodigy!

Very best
Dan
www.danholloway.wordpress.com

Jessica Brown said...

It really is a shame that out of everything he's written only three of his novels so far have been translated, and two of them have been put out by a publisher that seems to get very little exposure in the US.

I'm going to have to read a bit of your project, as the idea of doing something both interactive and on Facebook intrigues me quite a bit. I had planned several months ago to do a fiction project with handheld GPS and geocaching, but after I lost my job I ended up focusing on other things and the idea hit the backburner.

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Wow - love the GPS idea (like I Love Bees only a book!)

Over here in the UK, his stuff's actually quite widely promoted in bookshops so we're lucky.

Looking forward to finding my way around your blog more.

very best
Dan

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Hmm, in fact, I've got an Easter Egg backstory I'm working on. I might e-mail you if that's OK?

Jessica Brown said...

Sure, feel free to email.

As far as US/UK books go, for some reason there seem to be several books that weren't released stateside or are in very limited quantities. I had to spend nearly twenty dollars on eBay to get my hands on a copy of Paprika recently. When we do get the books over here, it always seems like we get the less attractive covers, too. I'm not sure why that is. Kirino's book Out got a great UK paperback cover, which I still intend to grab eventually. Ours was somewhat mediocre.

I'm sure this isn't the case with all translated novels, but it seems to happen fairly often to the books I'm interested in. Even some of our domestic releases end up with better covers in the UK!

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

I'll drop you a line at the weekend. Covers - yeah! I notice it with Banana Yoshimoto and Murakami - most of teh covers on Amazon are these bold pulp fiction things, and we get really minimalist one or two colour covers - made to look understated because that's apparently the English psyche :-)

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

That story that you posted the link to-I must admit that it made me smile. I wouldn't exactly call it perfect, but you told it in such a way that it didn't really matter if it was perfect or not.
-Licorice Lain

Jessica Brown said...

Have you ever read a book called Ghostwritten? It was David Mitchell's first novel. One of the last chapters in the book is a dialogue between a late-night shock jock and a very strange audience member who calls in once a year on the same day each time. It's really fascinating, and the whole twenty-plus page chapter is written entirely in dialogue.

I figured if David Mitchell could write a full chapter of dialogue, and make it really work, I could give it a shot using much tighter constraints. I was really happy the way it worked out. I kind of wished it could have been longer.

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

If it were longer, you could have made the conversation more menacing and perhaps less blunt-that was what took away from it for me. I like the short stuff, but I have seen nothing longer. I apologize if I have asked this of you prior to now, but are you working on anything novel length? It could definitely work out well for you and you won't stress as much about condensing the story as dragging it out.
-Licorice Lain

Jessica Brown said...

Aside from the already-completed In the Teahouse draft? I've been working on an experimental long-form story called Rain that I'm considering putting out for free online chapter by chapter. I've been tinkering with it off and on for over a year now and have about 25 short, bite-sized chapters accumulated so far.

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

Would be an interesting thing to see. Care to share a brief overview?

Rain is a fairly generic title and could be about anything. I am saying this despite knowing how much J-horror has influenced you. :)
-Licorice Lain

Jessica Brown said...

Here's how I summed it up in an email to Agnieska's Shoes (who's doing his own really interesting internet novel):

" It started off as an experiment in writing style, after reading Genichiro Takahashi's awesome postmodern tale Sayonara, Gangsters. It's a story called Rain, about a young woman who is traumatized by thunderstorms and the ghost of her apartment's previous tenant that she lets piggyback inside her body. It's always been less of a main project, more of something I work on between other projects while learning the ins and outs of novel writing. I've been thinking about putting up a chapter a week or whatnot on a new blog and just letting it out into the world. It's not the book that will ever win me an agent or editor (at least, not in my own opinion), but when I ask people close to me what their favorite writing piece of mine is they always end up saying Rain, even when I'm not expecting them to."

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

I would find that annoying, but that's just me.

I suggest you do as you will-hell, it could land you a spot in that bookstore you mentioned.
-Licorice Lain

Jessica Brown said...

Find what annoying, the story or an internet novel?

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

People flocking to only one idea.

I like the thought of people liking me for me and not just ONE of my stories.
-Licorice Lain

Jessica Brown said...

Well, it's a few trusted friends who've seen works in progress. Most of them have liked Rain better because they can see little bits of me sprinkled throughout. I don't think it really means that they only like just the one story, just that they like it enough to keep asking me for new chapters.

Rhys-Lain-Austurias said...

Oh yeah, sorry for ditching the chat with out saying anything. The conversation just....went in a direction I couldn't follow-if that makes sense.
-Licorice Lain