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Group Effort

Please, join me in an experiment in text. What I want us to achieve is a kind of group-mind, allowing us to write together - as a group - with the minimum of conflicting ideas and the maximum originality and imagination.

The idea of the experiment is simple enough. One of us will start the process by writing something, say a piece of prose on a topic that interests them, and will submit it to the group.

Then it starts getting interesting. The group takes the written work, and each member is given a copy. They each have the same amount of time (say, three days) to digest it, consider it, and then *re-write* all or part of it in a manner of their choosing.

All the re-writes are contributed back to the original creator at the same time. He or she then has the task of (a) posting *all* the re- writes online, alongside the original, in such a way to allow people coming along to read all the different versions easily; and (b) taking the re-writes and *editing* them into *one* new piece of work, about the same length as the original, which incorporates elements from *all* of the re-written contributions, but *not* from the original.


Please, just listen carefully so you understand what we're going to be doing for the next hour or so. I have an idea that I think you'll find fun. Listen.

Let's all think of a story - no, don't say it out loud, keep it in your head for now. Just think of a simple storyline, like "A man falls in love with someone," or "The girl who collected pencils," or something like that.

Roll it around in your head, thinking about how the story could develop from just the one line in your head. Think about the characters that might appear, the things they might say.

OK, now when you're ready, jot down your thoughts about a theme, some characters, and speeches on to the notepads I gave you earlier. When everyone's finished that, we will all pass the notepads to someone else. I won't say who yet - otherwise you could start conspiring on story ideas right now, and we don't want that.

What we're going to do is take all your thoughts and ideas and mix them all up.

When you pass your notepads to the next person, they will have the chance to mess about with them. They can add new ideas, or scribble some of yours out, or just change the meanings.

At the end, we'll put the best of all the thoughts and ideas up on the whiteboard, and we'll discuss what the next step is. OK, what are you waiting for? Get scribbling!


Please. Please just SHUT. UP.


I hate this place. I hate you. I hate this poxy work. Why do we have to do this? How is this going to help me in real life? What possible use could I have for it?

Here's what I think of your fun idea: it's shit. That's what it is.


I don't want to. No, I don't want to. Because I'd rather be down the town with my mates, on the arcade machines. Cos it's better than this. This is boring.


No I'm not. Anyway it's not about that, it's just that I really do not care. I want to be outside. I don't want to be stuck in here all day. It's boring.


Yeah. Well I will then.


Please go.


Please come up with something original while you're at it. And something that sticks to the tone of my original story. It's important, you see, to keep some kind of theme running through the whole thing. What's the use of a single written work, written by many people, if it contains as many ideas as there are people? My idea about the teacher who loses control of the class, with catastrophic results, was by far the best of all of them. Most of them were just the same ideas that you see in soap operas or cheesy Hollywood thrillers.

No, I think it's very important that we stick with that idea and move it forward in a logical manner. I'll admit that my choice for a name for the teacher was perhaps a bad one, but we only had a few minutes to think about it didn't we? You thought of some good names, we could have a vote on them later. A vote is the best way because it's the most democratic. The name with the most votes wins. Then we need to decide what happens to the teacher - yes, and the pupils. My ideas for this were way better than anyone else's. Why bother voting on that? It's obvious, isn't it?


Please, take me with you.


Please understand that we cannot guarantee that anything meaningful or coherent will emerge from this writing process. The essential problem remains one of communication - how can a writer with an idea for some text explain that idea to another person, without writing out the full text?

How can a writer let go of their idea and hand it on to others, especially people he or she does not know or necessarily trust, and be assured that the idea won't be dreadfully mutated, perhaps ruined in the creators' eyes, by people who cannot understand - or refuse to accept - the premise of the original idea?

That's why the final step involved editing all the contributions, so that someone can be in charge of the structure, the shape of the finished piece. You do see why there has to be structure, don't you? Without it, all the conflicting ideas and opinions would become a complete mess, the story would lose its focus.

You're all starting to see what I mean, I hope. But I've been speaking too long now - perhaps we should open it up for questions. Could someone fetch me a glass of water, please?

Write for Upsideclone

Upsideclone is now shuttered and no longer taking submissions.

Upsideclown is an evil cartel of seven who only write in a certain style on certain days of the week, and refuse to expand. Fah, say we! Upsideclone (this site, incase you hadn't noticed) serves to subvert the name of clown and to bring others into the fold.

If you've read Upsideclown and old articles here, you get the idea. Submissions are always welcome: We operate a strictly hands-off editorial approach (we won't even correct your spelling). Once submitted, your article goes to the vote by the seven clowns. A majority, and you're in the queue for Friday publications. Go on -- And if you want to know more, hints or clarifications: come ask us in talk.


Clare Maguire > 6dec2002 > The Face of The Future
Simon Batistoni > 15nov2002 > Ghost
Kelly Bean > 8nov2002 > The Program
Anonymous > 1nov2002 > Winning the Lottery
Ned > 25oct2002 > Calibre
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Simon Batistoni > 27sep2002 > Message Centre
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Kevan Davis > 6sep2002 > The Campaign for Real Advertising
Giles Turnbull > 30aug2002 > The old lady and the whelk
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Sandy Tulloch > 16aug2002 > How the people came to stop thinking
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Nicholas Wilshere > 19jul2002 > Two full-page ads
Dustin Ruby > 12jul2002 > Family Life
Matt Jones > 14jun2002 > The end of history
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Nick > 31may2002 > I wanna shake your hand
RavenBlack > 24may2002 > Precognito Ergo Sum
Ned > 10may2002 > Spambot
Tyrethali > 26apr2002 > The Contest
Holly Gramazio > 19apr2002 > A Tale of No Watermelons
Brooke Magnanti > 12apr2002 > What The Dead Remember
Tyrethali > 5apr2002 > Superego
RavenBlack > 29mar2002 > Black Rain
james > 22mar2002 > The Atom Thief
RavenBlack > 15mar2002 > Soul Trap
matzu > 8mar2002 > Angry Elton
RavenBlack > 1mar2002 > Hell Is Other People
JT Bruce > 22feb2002 > Door Ajar
matzu > 15feb2002 > Send in the clones
Kevan Davis > 8feb2002 > Litter
RavenBlack > 1feb2002 > The Perfect Job
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Giles Turnbull > 11jan2002 > The Twisted World of Advertising
Tom Armitage > 21dec2001 > Numbers
Sandy Tulloch > 14dec2001 > Killing Cats
Brooke Magnanti > 7dec2001 > The Jet Set
Giles Turnbull > 30nov2001 > Driftwood
james > 23nov2001 > with you in mind
RavenBlack > 16nov2001 > UpsideClones
Kevan Davis > 9nov2001 > Do Not Stand Forward Of This Notice
Giles Turnbull > 2nov2001 > Group Effort
Kevan Davis > 26oct2001 > Ask The Audience
RavenBlack > 19oct2001 > Don't You Just Hate Stupid People
Martin Griffiths > 12oct2001 > Your Nearest McDonalds...
RavenBlack > 5oct2001 > Life's a bureaucracy, and then you die
Kevan Davis > 28sep2001 > Work To Win
Tom Armitage > 21sep2001 > Don't Book it - Thomas Cook it.
Giles Turnbull > 14sep2001 > What happened to George
RavenBlack > 7sep2001 > Mental States
Kevan Davis > 31aug2001 > Walking Distance
Stuart and Jack > 24aug2001 > dialogue
Kevan Davis > 17aug2001 > Collector's Item

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