Collaborative Fiction is a form of writing together where each author writes a portion of the story, or writes focusing around a specific protagonist they own, and then passes the story on to the next writer for further additions or perhaps a change in focus to a protagonist owned by that author.
Collaborative fiction can be fully open with no rules or enforced structure as it moves from author to author, however most collaborative fiction adopts some form of 'writers guidelines' on what is or is not an acceptable contribution.
Common rules deal in:
- Enforcing a specific genre
- Not killing off or otherwise permanently changing a major character owned by another author
- Sticking to a certain 'point of view'
- Keeping a certain pacing, theme, or style emulation
- Keeping up grammar and spelling and staying to a certain language
- Sticking to rules regarding 'adult content'.
- Staying with 'the story'.
- Minimum and / or maximum word counts per contribution.
- Restrictions on or requirements to work together outside the story over plot and other elements.
- Restriction on who can contribute and how often when the work is being put together in an open area such as an online forum or mailing list.
Collaborative fiction seems to be growing from two distinct camps. On the one hand you have traditional fiction writers and writing circles choosing to experiment in creating group stories. The growth of the internet has seen an explosion in these groups. The other main camp has come out of the mix of table top and computer roleplaying gamers and related 'fandom' activities. Table top roleplaying has always been an exercise in collaborative fiction, but with more structured rules. It has been an almost natural evolution for gamers of this variety to try their hobby out without using the heavy structure of gaming engines. For computer roleplayers and genre fiction fans, much of the push has come from the effort to create fan fiction for popular characters designed by but not explored to 'satisfactory depth' by third party computer game, science fiction, anime, and similar companies.