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The World's First (Really) Commercial Novel

image credit: flickr - voxeros

image credit: flickr - voxeros

Ever wonder what would happen if the plotline of a novel were up for sale? Commercial Novel aims to find out. By commenting on the site—and making a donation to the site via PayPal—you can influence what happens in the next chapter of the novel. The comment with the highest donation shapes the next segment of the book. It’s sort of a three-way cross between an improv show, an exquisite corpse, and a charity auction.

The site’s authors explain the motivation behind the project:

We are fictional writers who lost our fictional middle-class lifestyle with the onset of the recession.* Although we’ve managed to stave off foreclosure and repossession, we still have middle-class bills. In an act of quiet desperation, we’ve opted, rather than weeping, to attempt the world’s first wholly commercial novel on these pages. You–our readers–can help us out of our financial quagmire by telling us what to write next.

*Note: We are fictional here. Both of the physical, real writers who clatter away at keyboards are likewise suffering from the recession. Your donations will genuinely help pay a mortgage.

And yes, in case you were wondering, there’s a certain amount of self-referentiality in the emerging novel. Here’s part of Chapter 1, in which the main character, Colin, sits at his desk writing—well, read on:

The car alarm beeped. Colin adjusted himself nervously, as if his wife had caught him masturbating, then feeling a slight flush to his cheeks, Colin realized that he might be up to something considered far worse in the circles he travelled: he was plotting ways to sell out. He was attempting to shirk every last ounce of his creative dignity. He didn’t, this time, want to write anything “good” or anything “literary” or anything that might make the smallest of incremental changes in what he assumed everyone could see was a thoroughly insane world. All he wanted was to make enough concessions and to provide enough distraction to a few people that he could still afford to watch the World Cup on cable without sacrificing things like health insurance or an occasional bean burrito at a fast food restaurant. All he wanted from this project was filthy fucking lucre. He wanted to write the most commercial novel ever written, but to have the cash instantly. There would be explosions, sex, sappy happy endings. There would be melodrama and puppies—puppies with sad, fat eyes, puppies that had been emotionally traumatized by years scavenging on the streets of Northern Kentucky, puppies who had to take antidepressants. He would pluck those fucking heartstrings of anonymous readers with a virtuoso touch. He would write anything they wanted.

Head to the Commercial Novel blog to read the rest of the novel (so far), comment on the plot or the project, or contribute.

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