Start Wars: On Moral Ownership vs. Legal Ownership

When asked about the changes that he had made to his earlier work, including to “Star Wars,” [George Lucas] said: “It’s my artistic vision. If I want to go back and change it, it’s my business, not somebody else’s.”

He could not be more wrong. If the past four decades have made anything clear, “Star Wars” the phenomenon doesn’t belong to Mr. Lucas or a studio, no matter what the copyright states: It is owned by the fans who — aided and abetted by him and his expansive empire — turned it into a sensation, a passion, a cult and, for some, a lifestyle.”

‘Star Wars’ Doesn’t Belong to George Lucas. It Belongs to the Fans.

Star Wars – Death Start

I’m fascinated by this phenomenon of cultural and moral appropriation. It has caused Lucas a great deal of grief but it has also transformed his movies into an icon for posterity, not to mention the invaluable free marketing it generates.

Art & Writing: On creating and sharing content on the web

How should writers and other artists reach their audiences on the web? There are no written rules, but it’s clear that being a “content creator” (comic book writer, painter, illustrator or journalist), requires as much knowledge of marketing as it does of their own particular discipline.

10astronauts-in-Instagram

Clearly the web is a great space to discover new talent. Our favorite singer Justing Bieber started his career on Youtube. Andy Weir, author of The Martian, first published his book in his blog for free (in serial format one chapter at a time). It seems like everyday new teenage idols are created right out of Instagram and Vine (Nash GrierKingBach, Brittany FurlanCameron Dallas, etc). Comic book artists can thrive exclusively online (the Oatmeal, xkcd, etc.) The list goes on and on.

All of the examples above have a few things in common: their content is freely available online (where it’s easy to be copied and re-shared) and the outreach to their audiences was self-initiated and did not depend on a manger or publishing company.

As with anything new, I’m not saying sharing on social networks will be the end of traditional talent agents (although it might). What I’m saying is that online creation and self-promotion is a growing trend that’s extremely effective. And think about this: the web is the medium that is reaching the younger demographic. With 100% certainty, this is how young people discover content today and will discover content tomorrow.

 “in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.”
— Show Your Work! By Austin Kleon

Testing the waters

Last year my partner in crime Ron published “Narrative Madness” on Gumroad and Amazon. This year he has published several short-stories on his blog ronosaurusrex.com. I’ve been writing short stories as well for a little while now, and so, in the back of my head, I keep thinking about the best way to share all this content.

10astronauts

I decided on starting small, so I though on the smallest possible story and came up with #10astronatus. I decided to publish it online, free, on a medium that I was already familiar with and that had no connection whatsoever to fiction writing and storytelling. #10astronauts is a short story broken in small chucks meant to be published and consumed in Instagram.

I chose Instagram because it’s a medium that can be shaped to be conductive to storytelling. The engagement is short but focused. It is also very distraction free. Somebody scrolling through their Instagram feed will always see your content (whether or not they decide to pause or engage is a different matter). Instagram is mostly visual, and so I decided to support the story visually somehow and I added illustrations.

I wrote the story in one afternoon (and edited it for the next 3 weeks), then I illustrated it with Charley over the next 3 weeks as the editing took place. The title of the story is a hashtag, so that it can serve as the means to find it online.

#10astronauts is now completed and published. If you want to read it head over to Instagram.

On Writing Fiction & Story Forms on the Web

I’ve been thinking lately more and more about what form should fiction writing take online, and—although I have no idea what the future holds—I can make some guesses.

writing-online-01

Offline vs Online Reading

I love reading books. I just finished Van Vogt’s “The World of Null-A” and I’m looking forward to its sequels. I like both short and long books. I do prefer long books since they let me sink into the story and once inside it is effortless to stay submerged. A short story requires my full commitment and concentration from the get-go in order to squeeze all the juice out of it.

When reading on the web (laptop or phone), I find it really difficult to read long form or even mid-length texts. I am never in a relaxed predisposition when I’m on my laptop; I am either working, banking or answering emails.

Long articles require from me a level of attention that I can’t (or wont) give to them. (This is also why more and more, I like to handwrite on a notebook. I find a notebook and its lack of multitasking, notifications and cat videos, the perfect space for my creativity to spread.) Short form feels natural online. Status updates, tweets, messages, quotes, … All of them can be easily copied, sent, they fit “above the fold”, they are scannable and they can serve as an abstract as much as an introduction.

New trends online also seem to favor short form (and short attention span): twitter, snapchat, instagram… even facebook favors small post.

But, Where does fiction fit online?

Writers have developed best practices for many non-fiction genres of writing online: journaling/autobiographical (blogs), reference (wikis), reviews (curating sites), reporting (news sites), etc. This has happened organically on each on these niches.

Fiction, however, hasn’t found a format or space on the web. Whatever form(s) fiction takes online, it will likely be short and it will have to live in a space that’s naturally shareable and easily accessible.

Like the living thing it is, fiction writing on the web, today, will have to adapt to the environment to survive.