Tied in to the ever-popular National Novel Writing Month scheme — which sees aspiring and established novelists producing a 50,000 word manuscript in November’s 30 dark and dismal days — Boook.Land is one of the most intriguing and exciting digital propositions come across in quite a while.
The brainchild of graphic designer Harry Boyd, Boook.Land sees Harry collaborating with Ben Chan and Malone Chen, a pair of London-based creatives who work together as twomuch on a project that allows users to crowd together in a virtual space to create a totally collaborative novel in real-time.
Log-on to the site and you’ll be presented with a continuous scroll of user-generated text, along with the option to add illustrations to the work in progress. “The process itself is based off the game Consequences, where a character is drawn in sections – all earlier sections are hidden by folding the paper, the full drawing only being revealed at the end,” says Harry.
Collectively they told us that, “None of us are particularly good writers or big readers but we all realise the power of language through being in the creative industry and inevitably needing to work with words,” adding that it was that “relatively inexperienced and naive attitude” that drew them to the idea.”
The trio try and check in on the site a few times a day, and each time they do they find themselves suprised by where users have taken the narrative. “One minute it’s about the plight of salmon, the next it’s about dragons wearing t-shirts or Gordon Ramsey hunting giant turkeys,” they tell It’s Nice That. At the time of writing the last submission reads:
“Master Cheese slept in that next day and missed his appointment with the local cardiologist. He always did silly things like this during the warmer months. In continuing his morning rituals he reached for his record player and put on his Miles Davis LP that his father gave to him for his birthday many moons ago. Master Cheese walked into the put the kettle on for coffee, lit a cigarette and watched the local school kids eat their morning tea.”
Right. Built on Google’s Firebase platform, which handles all the backend data processing that keeps the website running, it allows for what the team describe as, “a connected web experience where everything is happening in real time.”
The result is an ever-changing ode to the power of creativity. They plan on printing the finished result, in all it’s wonky glory, in the near future. “We talked a lot at the beginning about having a strong print and digital crossover aesthetic to reference the heavily-digital, non-traditional way we were creating a traditionally physical object,” is the response when we ask why they want to bring the story into the real world. “It wouldn’t have done the project justice to then have Boook.Land live purely online, it always needed to have a physical component.”
You’ve got just over half a month left to mark your mark. We’ll see you out there in Boook.Land.
About the Author
Josh Baines joined It's Nice That from July 2018 to July 2019 as News Editor, covering new high-profile projects, awards announcements, and everything else in between.