Shirley came up with the premise on Friday [March 5, 2010] or perhaps Thursday, and told me about it: you have two road Sereniteers – basically rural cops – in the Empire of Arko in the Fifth Millennium world. It’s post-conquest, however, and they are a mixed pair, an Arkan man who’s a veteran, grizzled and jaded, and a younger Yeoli woman who is relatively new to police work, holds idealistic views of law enforcement and is utterly upright, honest almost to a fault. Physically, she can kick his butt, and she’s the senior partner, in command. Shirley came up with his name, Kefas Runasas, solas, and asked me to come up with hers: Serao Shae-Ityirya.
I saw the comedic and adventure potential immediately, and asked Shirley whether she’d like to turn this into a collaborative project and whether she’d conceived an over-arching plot yet, because if not, the premise was wide open for live-writing and “choose your own adventure” possibilities.
After seeing some of the forays of MCM and reading his piece on being a live-writer, as well as doing character chats and acquiring Google Wave, I had been itching to really stretch my live-writing wings by creating right online, visibly, with readers integral to the creative process, and knew Shirley has similar ambitions and a similar lack of shyness. (Last summer we were IM role-playing on big screens visible right from a busy street in Bracebridge, Ontario, so we aren’t exactly introverted about our writing processes.) But the works we have in progress have plots too well-developed to allow enough reader input to be really fun for readers. We needed another premise to allow this, and now Shirley had come up with it.
So I proposed that we do a practice run on Wave so as to develop and get to know the two characters, and we did that on Mar. 5. Since Shirley’s challenged you to guess who play-wrote which, I won’t say, but my own goal is that we both get to know both characters so well that we could swap roles anytime and be equally convincing. In fact there was a certain amount of pinch-writing with each of us contributing lines to the character played by the other or to the narrative. (You don’t expect us to make it easy for you to guess, do you?)
The doughty duo began fleshing themselves out instantly as we worked. Shirley’s idea of Serao being at first oblivious to and then determined to eradicate the Arkan tradition of copious bribery seeded a moral argument between the two characters which we whipped together in minutes; the joke that the short form of Serao’s first name was the same as the Arkan honorific ‘ser’ came shortly thereafter; it was my idea that Serao, coming across as so tough and immovable, should have at least one really silly phobia, and since spiders is a common one, we chose it. With the crafting of an intro and some polishing – Kef’s narrative, being in a bit of a dialect, is difficult to write – Shirley posted the piece the same day on Eclipse Court.
What this all means is that yes, you’re going to see more of Kef & Ser, but it’s going to be created more through live-writing than by standard methods… and we will be inviting you to help create it, as Shirley already has in the forum, doing a call for plot ideas. (Note of warning: don’t expect us to use all ideas given us. We will use the ones we like, and modify them as appropriate. We might turn them upside-down, backwards and inside out. You’ll never know. Until it's... too late.)
Our next step is to do the story in which Ser & Kef (Ser just told me that as commander she should get first billing) are first assigned to each other as partners and first get to know each other, so look for that sometime soon.