Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."


Okay, here’s an experiment inspired by this blog post about the inventor of the computer, because why not? Let’s attempt to do something that’s never been done before.

What I need for this experiment to work is one (1) volunteer with a blog or website who believes that he or she can also attract one (1) volunteer.

Here are the rules:

1. I am going to write exactly 500 words (or about a page) of an original novel at the end of this post.

2. Anyone who wants to volunteer to write the next page should write “I want the football” or “Pass me the football” or something along those lines as a comment in the comments section. The volunteer should also include a link to the website where he or she intends to post the next page of the novel.

3. I am going to acknowledge each volunteer who makes a “Give me the ball” comment with a reply like “The football is yours, Jimmy” or “Take the ball, Laura.” (This way folks can still make comments like “Cool site but I don’t want to participate” or “You’re stupid, this will never work.”) Important note: every participant MUST acknowledge EVERY volunteer who comments. This way there will be multiple iterations of the novel going in tons of different directions.

4. Here’s the fun part: each volunteer is now going to post the next 500 words in the novel on his or her website. Then he or she is going to solicit volunteers and so on and so forth. Even though it’s not exactly a page, you should write EXACTLY 500 words and call it your page (that way everyone gets the same amount of input.) Stop mid-sentence if you have to. The next volunteer should pick up at the exact word you left off.

5. Feel free to make a departure in tone, genre, style, whatever. The only rule is that you cannot directly contradict something that came before. So if the character Captain Manslice has, up until now, been fighting terrorists in a taut thriller, don’t be afraid to have aliens suddenly land and turn the story into a scifi romp. However, if Captain Manslice is explicitly stated to have green eyes on page 1, he cannot suddenly have purple eyes on page 10.

6. Each volunteer’s post should consist of three things:

     a. A link to these instructions.

     b. A list of links to each of the preceding pages in your iteration, as well as your own, so that others can copy-and-paste and continue.

     c. In capital letters the words “THIS IS PAGE X”with “X” being a number.

     d. EXACTLY 500 words of text.

7. VERY IMPORTANT: the one hundredth volunteer in every iteration should conclude the story as best as he or she can, and then include the words “THE END” as the last two words. (No, this does not count against your 500 words. You are very special. You get 502 words for finishing the story!) You should also include an explanation like, “Sorry, volunteers, but this was the last page of this version of THE NOVEL HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD. But feel free to click an earlier page if you want to join the fun!

Those are the rules. That’s it. Together, one hundred volunteers will write a full 50,000 word novel. But that’s just the starting point. The real fun of it is that there will be dozens, if not hundreds of versions of this novel. REMEMBER: YOU MUST PASS THE FOOTBALL TO EVERYONE WHO VOLUNTEERS. Who knows how many versions we can create together?



  1. By the way, here's the link to page 1 if you want to get started and you haven't been directed to these instructions from another page. 

  2. whoa that is an amazing plan. one the is making my brain spin with numbers.

    1. I think we've all been waiting for the Great American Pizza Novel (or at least a page of it. Is it in you???


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