Techno-literary Blogger Writing Open Source Novel

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J Wynia, a web consultant, writer and geek, is writing an open source novel called "Inheritance" and documenting the process on his web site as part of National Novel Writing Month.

J Wynia, a web consultant, writer and geek is writing an open source novel called "Inheritance" and documenting the process on his web site as part of National Novel Writing Month. The event itself has participants writing a 50,000 word (approx 175 pages) novel during the month of November. Participation has grown from 21 people in 1999 to approximately 60,000 this year. J is using this year's program as a platform for experimenting in alternatives to the traditional publishing methods for fiction using Creative Commons licensing, web publishing and print on demand publishing.

"The current model of book publishing is outdated. The more and more I thought about a system where writers are convinced by lottery-like promises of multi-million copy bestsellers, to beg and plead with New York publishing houses for approval, and the average author makes less money for the effort than the average convenience store clerk, I was convinced that there's got to be a better way," says J.

The open source software movement has provided ample precedent for how individuals and groups can share and reuse portions of the software without the headaches and commercial overhead of more traditional software. He's also inspired by the successful grafting of journalism to web publishing that is starting to allow individuals to make 6 figure incomes writing for their own web sites, without the infrastructure of newspapers, magazines or other print publications.

"With the lawsuits and hostile legal environment surrounding traditional copyright and trademark law make doing things like writing a new novel that reuses characters from existing franchises, usually called "fan fiction" has brought on lawsuits from large companies over their trademarks for characters like those from Star Trek and Harry Potter. If, instead, a new novelist could take advantage of existing characters, plots or rough drafts, the barrier of entry for writing is lowered and the same democratic approach that blogging gave people for expressing their opinions could let people tell fictional stories as well. I believe that the Internet and technology like print on demand publishing provide an opportunity to explore new ways of writing, editing and publishing fiction. My experiment is just one option that I'm exploring. I encourage anyone who's interested to try their own ways of pushing the boundaries," says J.

As part of that effort, he's posting the rough draft as pages are finished and altered. At all stages of the creation and editing of the book, the contents are under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which allows for reuse, republishing, modification and more as long as credit is attributed. Other Creative Commons licenses have been used by novelist Cory Doctorow to successfully selling more print copies of his books that he attributes directly to giving away digital copies. Baen Books has had a similar experience with print sales growing directly in conjunction with free digital downloads.

"It's my hope that we can find ways for writers to accomplish the goals they've had for a long time: more people reading and enjoying their work and making some money. I'm just open to the idea that that money might not come directly from the readers," says J.

His novel in progress, "Inheritance" is a murder/thriller set in his home state of Minnesota. The overall plot is summed up as "A cop needs to defend his family's honor when bodies are found on the farm he inherits." The manuscript, information on participating in editing as well as journal entries on the process of writing and publishing the novel can be found at: More information on the concepts and inspiration for the project are at

About J Wynia

J Wynia is a web developer, writer and geek who lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and 2 basset hounds. J's personal site, The Glass is Too Big, where he writes on web development and technology, lifehacking and writing can be found at or His essays and ongoing discussion of open source fiction methods and concepts can be found at


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