I have a lot of ideas for stories. Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all. I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them. I’ll just never get a chance to. So, I give them to the world. If you can make something of these, go right ahead. And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.
This is an idea for an online collaborative project that would span years. It’s possible something similar has already been tried, but I have no knowledge of that.
It was probably at least ten years ago, I was flipping through the channels late one night when I came across a movie that was set in a time of Greek myths. There was a period where several of these movies had come out, but I hadn’t seen any of them. So I watched this one, and while checking the schedule during the commercials saw that one of these other movies was on the next afternoon on another channel. I watched that one too, and they were both terrible. I understand that each generation retells stories, dropping things that are no longer relevant or acceptable and adding new experiences. But for these movies it seemed like they just took the Greek myths and put them through a shredder, then tapped together whatever random bits they needed. And I thought, Why even bother? Is the name recognition of Zeus so great you couldn’t just write an original story?
So at first I had the idea of writing out an entirely new mythology. I started thinking about it, and I quickly saw how enormous the project would be. I mean, it would basically be as large – or larger – than all the Greek myths we know. It wouldn’t be just putting a new skin over Hercules and calling it a day, this would be entirely original gods, and heroes, and adventures. One hope was to eventually build up to an Iliad size of story.
For some time it was just this great idea I’d never have time to do, but then I had the idea of just starting it and letting others fill it out. What I came up with was to have a website with a map, and some basic world origin canon. This world began when The Nameless Goddess grew lonely, so she created the world with her torso. Her flesh became the land, her blood the seas. Her left eye became the sun, her right the moon. And her skull became the heavens. But so this world wouldn’t be without gods, her left leg became god of the land, her right the goddess of the sea. Her left arm became the goddess of life, and her right the god of death. These gods appear as humans, and can have kids with humans, but their true form is a limb. But they learned from The Nameless Goddess and some have made minor gods from toes and fingers. All but death, who hasn’t diminished any of his power and remains the strongest. I’m not sure what happened to The Nameless Goddess. Possibly her essence builds a bridge to the afterlife, but who knows.
So that’s how the website would start. What would then happen, is the site would be open for people to write historical stories based in this world. Maybe someone writes a story about how a poor fisherman accidently caught one of the minor sea goddesses, but set her free. In reward, she granted him treasure and knowledge to set up a kingdom of his own. Members of the site could read this story, and if they liked it, they could give it canon points. If it got enough, it would be reviewed to make sure it fit in with everything that already happened, and it would become canon as a historical fact in this universe. After that, other stories could make reference to the characters and locations. The hope is that you’d end up with dozens of little kingdoms that trade, and fight, and make alliances with each other. And along the way there would be stories of heroes and monsters.
To keep things from getting out of hand, there would be a Year 0, set maybe a thousand or so years after the formation of the world. No stories could be set before Year 0, but there could be myths, which I’ll discuss later. When the site first goes live would be Year 20, and then each month twenty years would be added to the calendar. And you’d only be able to write stories set up to whatever the current year was. So in the third month, you could write stories set anywhere from Year 0 to Year 60. If you had two stories about a war between two kingdoms, but with different outcomes, whichever story got the most canon points would be the true history of the world, while the other would be relocated to an alternate history section.
But stories on the site don’t all need to be about historical fact. There would also be a section on the site for in-universe fiction. Maybe that fisherman story happened in Year 10, so when Year 110 comes around and everyone in that kingdom is celebrating, a playwright from a rival kingdom could write a play that gives a twist on the events. Instead of canon points, these fictional stories would get popularity points. The more popular stories – ones that most people in-universe would know – could be mentioned in the historical stories. But just like in real life, maybe a story isn’t that popular and few people know about it, until someone else comes along and gives it a shiny new coat of paint, and maybe that becomes a popular story.
Other stories that would get popularity points would be myths. These would be any story set before Year 0, and they may or may not be accurate portrayals of historical events. Popular myth stories would likely be referenced in historical or fictional stories.
So that’s the idea, but you can probably see the enormous headache it would be. If there aren’t enough members on the site, then the world might grow too slowly and people would stop checking it out. If there are too many members, then you could get ten stories about how these two kingdoms fought – or didn’t fight – a war, and maybe one gets declared canon before you can read all of them. There could also be factions that just up-vote their own stories which doesn’t sound like fun. And then the legal issues of who owns the stories and can they be taken down. If you want to deal with all those headaches, more power to you.
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