Game of blogs is a unique initiative from Blogadda that has given all the participants unique opportunity to collaborate and create a story. The challenge was not easy by any means because none of the bloggers knew each other in advance and timeline was also limited for each phase.
Ever since I have started blogging I tried to participate in all such blogging events not because I win prizes but because they give me chance to explore different shades of life. Every new contest is thus a new challenge in itself. In this case the challenge was more. My article needed to be acceptable to everyone in the group and also it needed to be written in a coherent manner with articles written by others. We understood the extent of challenge as the competition went into subsequent stages.
Initially, we were allotted ten bloggers in our group. I presume that all groups were allotted ten bloggers to maintain transparency. The moment I received the mail from Blogadda, I have created a Googlegroup for all our communication and asked for a volunteer who would want to be our leader. It was very difficult for me to nominate myself as a leader as I knew that due to my tight daily schedule I would not be able to lead the group and manage all communications. Pawan Hegde came forward instantly as a leader and the group didn’t have any problem in accepting him as a leader. There was another blogger named Preetam who responded to my initial mail giving the group a name “Writer’s Express”. We didn’t have any time to brainstorm over the name and so we decided to do that later and go straight into the activity.
From the initial group of ten bloggers only five responded to my mail. Preetam didn’t respond to our mails after his first mail and after suggesting a name for our group. As the activity demanded at least one post each from seven members in the team so we had to ask Blogadda about more bloggers and Blogadda was quick to respond and allocated two more bloggers to us. But they have not responded to our emails as well. So we had to take Blogadda’s permission to add bloggers known to us so that we can quickly move on with this activity. Blogadda was quick to oblige as well.
To start the activity Blogadda has given us description of five main characters that needed to be in our story. The conditions were also laid out. We were not supposed to kill any main character and not introduce more than three characters in our story. Also we were supposed to submit our entries within seven days of the start of the contest keeping all constraints in mind.
Pawan was fast enough to create a word document to chart out our story ideas and a time was fixed for the team to be online on Google hangout to brainstorm the story ideas. We were informed about our groups on 11th September, Thursday and the end of first round was scheduled on 17th September, Wednesday.
We had a first round of discussion on 11th September at night 10 pm and all of us gave our story ideas. We kept in mind that the activity would continue for three weeks. There were around ten story ideas that have come up. Pawan himself has given maximum story ideas but the team has selected the idea of Anuradha. It was very interesting and engaging plot by her. The decision on the plot was made the next day after she charted out the idea elaborately.
Another challenge was to arrive at the writing sequence. Pawan pointed out that all of us could write in parallel and hence only the chapters needed to be fleshed out in elaborate manner. I was anxious that if we did not write in a sequence then we would miss on important flow and sequence of events but the idea of writing in parallel was inevitable one.
Anuradha was quick to flesh out first eight chapters for the first round and Pawan was quick to capture our writing sequence. I volunteered for second chapter and promised to publish that on Saturday, 13th September. Pawan took up the first chapter. He also came up with a brilliant idea of creating a Google document where all of us could write and then all of us can review and give our comments / feedback on the document to maintain the flow. It proved to be really wonderful game changer for the team.
Even though Pawan was selected as a leader of the group, I was taking up leadership role whenever he was out or didn’t have time to coordinate. In that way I would say that we did well as this was a big challenge for any team collaborating online from different parts of India.
Once the story idea was fixed and we all got together in final act of writing, we all started our part of the story. Since the chapters were already outlined by Anuradha, it was easy for each of us to write the chapters independently. Another challenge came up when for the sake of elaborating the story we had to mention one or two extra names in the story. This would have increased the maximum number of additional characters permissible in our story so I had to clarify with Blogadda that mere mention of some names would not be considered in the character count.
Once our doubts were clarified and we started putting our parts of story on the shared Google drive for everyone’s review there were huge number of comments that came up. At the initial stage these were minor issues but as we kept on writing new chapters the continuity and conflict related issues started coming up more. But first round was still okay to handle. Anuradha turned out to be a branding expert and she took charge of creating our logo and characters and the team really loved them. Later we were joined by another great artist cum blogger Shilpa Halwe who has designed some characters as well. However, later on team did not use any of the character illustrations.
For designing the logo the team did little brainstorming over emails. After Pawan created the topic and then we decided on a meaning, Anuradha came up with three designs of the logo and we have selected one. In this respect Anuradha has done phenomenal work. As we saw all other team’s logo was on display on Blogadda page, I have sent them our logo to put up on their site. Blogadda not only added our logo on their page but twitted the same to others.
In the second round the challenge grew as Blogadda announced a twist in the story and introduced another character in the story. Anuradha had to incorporate the twist and flesh out her story idea in ten different chapters. I am sure it was a herculean task for her but to maintain continuity of the story we could not chip in and was dependant on her. I should add that she has done a wonderful job in managing this load.
Pawan clarified in the beginning of the second round that he wouldn’t be around and I had to take up the leadership role in second round. The second round end date was 19th October but I had a travel scheduled on the same evening and I clarified beforehand that someone from the team had to take up the leadership role of submitting the story in word format to Blogadda team. Even Pawan was scheduled to travel on the same day and I assume Shaznin finally took up the role of submitting our story in the second round.
The challenges in the second round were many. Especially with the story getting bigger and more aspects were added by different bloggers we lost continuity in plot or many a times ended up in having conflict in what others have written in other chapters. Since all of us were loaded with our daily work and normal blogging (on other topics) in parallel this round was very tough for us. But the team has managed it well. Especially some of the team members have worked till late night to sail through this round. We thus completed 18 chapters in two rounds.
Unfortunately most of our team members had travel plans from 19th September onwards and even though I suggested to add other members and to include others in the team it was not done. Since I did not have any email connectivity from 19th September onwards I was completely cut off from what happened in that week.
When I did come back after ten days of travel I saw multiple mail threads and more than fifty mails on this activity. I could read a few of the mails that told me that we were not selected for the third round. However, when I checked the Blogadda site I did see wild card entry provision in third round and we could not take part in that as most of us were travelling that week.
So our journey that started with much enthusiasm ended abruptly because of our travel.
Overall, to me this activity was a great learning experience. It gave us much needed exposure and networking opportunity with other bloggers. Even though all of us are blogging on different matters for years, we hardly have any opportunity to collaborate with each other or know each other. I have learnt many nuances of story writing and working with such a great team, gave me unique opportunity to explore my limitations. I came to know great writers like Anuradha and Manjulika and that is a great plus in my blogging life.
I thank entire team of Blogadda for bringing in such a wonderful activity for us. Kudos and keep it up.