A Workout for Writers


This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on November 5, 2008.

The internet is all about building communities. Look in the right corners and people with shared interests will gather together on any sorts of topics from dog sweater knitting, to miniature plane building, to parenting children with special needs.

It’s at the core of our being, we want to connect with people who have like minded interests, and the web helps build bridges across distances to bring people together.

Taunt Media‘s Protagonize does that for creative writers. The site is a community that allows writers to collaborate on different works as linear fiction (a traditional story) or in choose-your-own-adventure style that allows people to branch stories in different directions, adding layers and depth to the characters and tales.

Created last winter by Founder and Managing Editor, Nick Bouton, the site has made quite a name for itself in the scant 10 months it has been live.

It’s a place where authors can go to get instant feedback on their style and content.

“They treat it like a game almost, it’s just like practicing and improving your writing style,” says Bouton. “Some people use it as an experimental training ground, where they post things that may not be their normal style and there’s some published authors on there that sometimes go anonymous.”

“People who put post stuff, a lot of the time it’s going to get read,” says Nick, who is proud of how his site funnels new posts to make sure they’re available to readers. “They have a feeling that people are actually going to see this stuff and there’s a good chunk of people who are talented writers who are going to see it. So they get a kick out of the creative feedback they get, and the back and forth.”

And now Protagonize has been nominated as one of the Best Social Media Websites in the country for the Canadian New Media Awards set to be handed out in Toronto next week.

The award would be nice publicity for Nick, who, until now, has been spreading the word about his site organically through message boards, Facebook groups and Twitter.

There are two keys that set Protagonize apart from other collaborative writing sites and circles online: membership is free, and the authors control the copyright of their content via Creative Commons licensing.

“For me, the business is about building the community and trying to make income off the site itself, not the work they’re producing.”

The site is a side project for Bouton, something he works at in his spare time, which means many late nights and early mornings managing the comment spam and trolls and coding new features. But as with many who work on the web, it’s all worth it to see people active and participating.

“As long as people enjoy themselves,” he says.

BLOGOSPHERE BUZZ

Protagonize is up against another local for the Excellence in Social Media Website award, Clive Goodson’s Pixton. Pixton is a site where people can create comics, without drawing. All the pieces are online for you to put together to build funny, personal web strips.

You’re a few days behind the rest of the group, but if you’re in to writing, check out NaNoWriMoNational Novel Writing Month. Authors are encouraged to crank out 50 000 words of fiction in 30 days (25 now). Last year more than 15 000 completed the challenge.

It’s all about the awards as bloggers nominate friends who in turn will nominate them for the Canadian Blogger Awards. There are more than 2 dozen categories with nominations open until November 22.

Let’s hope many more follow where YVR is leading us – free WiFi. Everywhere. A contract with Telus has just expired and instead of renewing it, the airport has opened their 70 internet attenas to travelers in the international, domestic and south terminals for free.

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  1. […] Nick Boutin–promoting Protagonize, his new community site for writers, about which Cyberbuzz wrote in […]

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