Website empowers Internet writers

Entrepreneur Michael Siedlecki, the founder and designer of Neovella (Courtesy of M. Siedlecki)

Adam Jones

Writers and storytellers worldwide have a new medium for expression, as there is now an easily accessible way to write with friends, acquaintances, or even completely random people, collaboratively.

Since the creation of spoken language, stories have been passed from generation to generation by oral tradition. This exchange of ideas evolved when people began to share stories together, and take turns telling the story to introduce new drama, action, and comedy.

Neovella.com, a new start-up website, lets you do just that, take turns telling a story. You can do it privately with friends, publicly with people you don’t know, or a mix of both. Each person writes a sentence or several sentences, and then the next person takes a turn. The sequence repeats continually until the co-authors deem the story is finished.

“Some people think literature is dying and losing ground to other forms of media,” said Michael Siedlecki, 22, a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and creator of the site. “If we want to revive literature, we have [to] get immersed in it with our friends.”

A Neovella needs as few as two people to co-write, but can be co-written by up to ten people at a time.

Siedlecki created Neovella to help bring more genuinely entertaining content creation to the Internet, and give the creators the ability to profit from their work while having fun. Siedlecki has named the stories Neovellas, after the website’s name.

“We want to take social media to the next level by providing a means for social production of worthwhile content,” Siedlecki said. “Gamification of the writing process makes it much more immersive and exciting.” Gamification is an industry term for the use of game play mechanics in a non-game application.

Siedlecki has already set up a way for popular Neovellas to be sold using a service provided by Amazon.com. Depending on how successful Neovella becomes, Siedlecki intends to alter the amount of money co-authors receive depending on the success of the web site and the given story.

Siedlecki, and his marketing manager, Henry Wang, have been using students from Saddleback as a testing group. Brett Dobosy, 19, computer animation, Tyler Brown, 20, business, Minh Mai 19, computer science, Joel Reaves, 20, film, Alex Sperling, 23, undeclared, and Evan Silverman, 23, chemistry, participated in the final beta test of Neovella.

“I like the idea that it is using collective creativity,” said Dobosy. “Neovella is whatever you make it.”

Dobosy participated in a hand written version of the same concept in a scriptwriting class at Saddleback.

“Writing with a different group of authors is always a unique experience, but the writers from Saddleback were easily some of the more creative we’ve had.” Siedlecki said. “Their test run helped weed out some of the last few bugs.”

Siedlecki began work on Neovella in October of 2010, and began building his team toward the end of 2010, and quickly started testing the product. Once Neovella is released and stable, he hopes to expand on the idea of social production over the Internet.

“Neovella is just the first experimental step to test if social production can work through the Internet, simply by enforcing a very minimal rule-set – take turns every sentence,” Siedlecki said. “So far, we’ve tested that to some very optimistic results.”

Neovella officially released Monday, and can be signed up for privately, or connected to through Facebook using Facebook Connect.

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