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Muse Fiction

Please welcome, Deirdre Murphy (aka [info]wyld_dandelyon*), joint winner of this year's Meager Puddle of Limelight Award for Best Short Story Title, who's stopping by to tell us a little about 'Muse' Fiction.


So what exactly is 'Muse' Fusion?
Harlan Ellison did a series of "stories under glass" in which he sat in a bookstore window and wrote a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Elizabeth Barrette (aka [info]ysabetwordsmith), another Torn World writer and our Torn Tongue teacher, has been doing “Poetry Fishbowls” in LJ on the first Tuesday of the month for some time now. I love her poetry—and I’m impressed by how many poems she can write in one day.

Based on her success with the Fishbowls, shortly after Torn World opened to the public, we decided to try something similar, but the name was a problem, since we do fiction, poetry, mythology, art, and metafiction. All that plus fishbowl is a mouthful! Someone suggested Muse Fusion, because our readers get to be our muses for the day, and the name stuck.

We started with a 12-hour time period for creating, but we have writers and artists in various time zones. With just a part of one day, we found that no matter when we scheduled it, people had conflicts with important things, like sleep! So now we do the Muse Fusion over a weekend.

You say people act as your Muse—how does that work?
People can ask questions, offer titles, topics, or even just a list of words. Sometimes people say they would like to see more of a particular character or ask to see how one of the Empire’s odd laws affects the people there. Then each Torn World creator who’s participating uses one or more of those prompts as a jumping-off point, and makes something new and lets people know what they’ve wrought. Then, time permitting, they pick another prompt. I find that I most often find inspiration in a combination of prompts, like there’s some mysterious alchemy—a fusion, so to speak—happening in my mind.

So, can anyone write about one of your characters in Torn World?
Yes, but with rules. Many of the characters I create, especially the bit characters, are not “adopted” characters. If someone else writes about my characters, I have to approve of the portrayal or the story cannot become canon, and likewise, if I write about someone else’s characters, I have to get their approval. It sounds complicated, but in practice, it’s usually just a few edits to tweak things into shape.

When is the next Muse Fusion?
It will be this coming weekend (of June 24th). You’re all welcome to stop by our LJ community
([info]torn_world) and check out the event. If your prompt is used, you’ll get to see the first draft, usually before anyone else, even if the story is otherwise reserved for subscribers to the site.


Deirdre M. Murphy is a writer, musician and artist. She’s spent most of her life squeezing creative pursuits into whatever nooks and crannies of “spare time” she could create. She lives in a big old Victorian house surrounded by different varieties of rose, mint, herbs, and a bit of grass sprinkled liberally with dandelions.
When she was a kid, she wanted to learn everything, and read all the science fiction and fantasy ever written. As an adult, she realizes that’s not a realistic goal, but she believes in dreaming big.


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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 21st, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
This does remind me quite a bit of the "studio system"
Warner Bros used, although it's not an exact likeness.

Meanwhile, if someone writes one of your characters,
do they pay to do that, or get paid to do that,
or is it a communal sort of thing?

And would it be accurate/inaccurate to describe Torn World Muse Fusion as "online busking" ?
Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:19 am (UTC)
I do consider it busking. Some of the new material is shared with the public for free, but other material is reserved for Torn World subscribers unless it's sponsored either by tips in our paypal "hats" or by using Torn World credits.

As to the characters, there's a procedure for adopting characters, supporting them with karma either bought with a subscription or earned by creating material for the site. Some characters I've created are available for adoption or have been adopted by other people. Some are mine.

If you adopted a character you have to approve any use of that character, or the work (story, poetry, or art) cannot become canon. For characters that aren't adopted, the canon board has to approve that they are portrayed in a way that is consistent with prior stories and appropriate for the character. (In practice, the person who created a character is often asked for their opinion if no one else has adopted that character.)

So, if someone writes a story about one of my characters, they would typically contact me before the final draft of a story is submitted to the canon board. For a slow writer or a longer story, that's likely in the planning stages; from a fast writer I might see the whole story. Then either I can say "that's great" or we discuss changes. So far, the most drastic solution I've seen is someone inventing a new character and substituting that person in, but that's rare; it's far more common that I see a character I created portrayed just right in one of my co-creators' stories and point out a typo or a turn of phrase that isn't quite in character

I feel pretty lucky in having perceptive and skilled co-creators over at Torn World.

Oh--a thought related to both character use and busking, someone who wants to support a character they adopted, or simply to see more of a favorite character, can commission work. Most of us are available to take commissions.
Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:31 am (UTC)
I'm glad I asked.
Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
It actually seems more complicated to describe than to do!
Jun. 21st, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)

on winning the coveted Puddle Award!

If life doesn't swallow me up to the extent that my brain boggles (as has been wont to happen these past few weeks) I'll check things out on the 24th. Cool!
Jun. 21st, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you
I love those sparkly letters.

You are welcome to friend the torn_world community, so the posts there, including the Muse Fusions, show up on your friends' list--at least then, if you're online on Friday (or during the weekend) you'll likely see the post even if you don't remember to look for it.

I hope to see you there.
Jun. 24th, 2011 05:24 am (UTC)
Thank you again, Jon, for welcoming me to your journal.
Jun. 24th, 2011 08:10 am (UTC)
My pleasure, Deirdre :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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