The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Is that Even Possible? A Writing Experiment: Chaos Is Come Again with John Dolan and Fiona Quinn

First, a Scientific Question

Could two writers who had just met on Twitter come together and write a novel? 


Some considerations:
* The writers had never met, never even spoken to each other. Only
   tweeted. Though the question was posed in an e-mail. 
* They write in different styles.
* One writes in English- English; one writes in American-English.

   And thus, spelling, vocabulary, and phrasing differences - some
   of them quite significant - some quite funny.
* One writer lives outside of D.C. in the U.S. and the other is an
   English ex-pat splitting his time between Thailand 
   and Dubai so a time difference of 11 or 9 hours respectively.
* They were both very busy. Dolan was running a power company,
   and Quinn was homeschooling her brood. Both were already
   working on their own writing projects. 
* One was a plotter who has a love of spreadsheets, the other a
   pantser who actually broke out in hives the first time she saw a

The catalyst for the science experiment.

Fiona Quinn, a newby to Twitter, meets John Dolan, a Twitter proficient, because she did not understand what an RT was. 

This lead to Dolan putting on his much doffed Henry Higgins cap as he tried to explain the workings of Twitter. 

And then, there was a Twitter exchange of a story - line by line - which lead almost immediately to the question - is this possible in a larger format? Could we write a novel?

Background Research

* First, each subject had to read each other's work and see if
   they felt their possible writing partner could string more that 140
   characters together in a cogent fashion.
* Then there was the Skype session - to actually "meet."
* This was followed by ideas thrown about to see if the minds
    could interact as a team.


Two strangers from different backgrounds and different parts of the world can bring their own talents and knowledge to the table to create a unique and interesting work of fiction.

Test Your Hypothesis

Fiona Quinn
Quinn and Dolan began the experiment in the spring of 2013. Within a couple of months of daily Skyping and numerous emails, they had constructed their characters and plotline. Dolan took time off on a sabbatical, and they came together to finish the project spring of 2014.

Decisions were made about spelling, language, and process and all were documented ad nauseum into spreadsheets (that Quinn had to be coaxed into opening).

Language/cultural barriers were broken down with exchanges such as these:

Dolan - You are a cheeky cow.
Quinn - I'm a cow? 
              I think we could start with a dictionary of weird
              English words - Yonks, Cow, Fanny, Shag, Twee,
Dolan - The "cow" thing btw. In English the term "cheeky cow" (of
              which "cow" is a shortened version) is almost a term of
              endearment directed at someone who has made a comment
              which is critical but in a non-threatening/insulting way.
              Just so you know.
Quinn - I took it with a spoonful of endearment.


Quinn - How do you envision Sean?
Dolan - * He's not a homeschooled vegetarian
             * He doesn't like anchovies
             * Size 9 feet
Quinn - Size 9 feet? That's unfortunate.
Dolan - Why?
Quinn - Oh... Hmm... Well there seems to be a mythological 
             correlate --
Dolan - I have size 9 feet
Quinn - ACH! I'll stop typing.
             NO WAIT!
             You have size 9 feet in European size?
Dolan - Yes. Well UK size
Quinn - Okay then I'll finish. A correlate between the man's foot
              size and his uhm “endowment.” And here, size 9 is rather 
Dolan - Ah, but my foot is only a size 9 when it's not aroused. 
             Whenever my feet get excited, they bust out of my shoes.
Quinn - Too early! I just woke up. 
              That's a frightening thought, Mr. Dolan.
Dolan - It's like a scene from Alien.
Quinn - OK, that's enough thank you. I'm off to wake the kiddos.
              L8r G8R.

There were lots of technical difficulties - a typical exchange.

* OK, I've been through it and accepted all your yellows and put a couple of red expansions. Wanna
    talk about the big blocks of green under Sean and Teagan?
* 2:00pm Quinn - yup.
* 2:02pm Dolan - On video? 15 min warning: I need to get something to eat shortly, OK?
* 2:03pm - John missed a call from you.
* May 24 - You missed a call from John.
* 2:04pm Quinn -  try again  it didnt ring.
* May 24 You missed a call from John.
* 2:05pm Dolan -retrying
* May 24 You missed a call from John.
* May 24 John called you.
* May 24 John called you.
* May 24 John called you.
* May 24 You missed a call from John.
* May 24 You missed a call from John.
* May 24 John missed a call from you.
* 2:10pm Dolan - 1 more try
* 2:10pm Quinn -  k u go
* May 24 You missed a call from John.
* 2:11pm  Dolan - Tried. It's not playing. Let me eat and we'll try later if that's OK with you
* 2:12pm Quinn -  Yup

* 4:07pm Dolan - You try
* May 24 You called John.
* May 24 John called you.
* May 24 You called John.
* May 24 John called you.
* 4:09pm Quinn - one more time for good luck - you or me?
* 4:10pm Dolan - you call but give me 1 min first. I thought I'd try headphones and see if it makes a
               difference. OK ready
* May 24 You called John.
* 4:14pm Quinn -  Whoop! I can see you... BOO! I can't hear you.
* 4:15pm Dolan - Can you see my lips moving?
* 4:15 pm Quinn - Sigh. Maybe the book will just write itself????

Description of Outcome:
In Chaos Is Come Again, authors John Dolan and Fiona Quinn step away from their usual writing styles to create a twisted dark comedy for the Internet generation. Pulling back the curtain on the messiness of their characters’ issues, the authors take a satiric look at the juggling act of modern life.

In America, dread propels literary agent Avery Goodyear out of bed each morning. She’s panicked about losing her job if she doesn't get Travis Bishop – the coke-addicted author of the blasphemous Nosferatu, the Lost Gospel – to complete his sequel.

In England, Sean’s schizophrenia meds aren’t doing their job, and the voices in his head are getting louder. To make matters worse, he is being harassed by a predatory girlfriend, and a conspiracy nut who thinks the way to catch the London serial killer is through the magic number 23.

A chance meeting on Twitter connects Sean and Avery. As their relationship deepens, they each try to conceal the chaos that defines their lives. But secrets can be deadly.

 For readers who enjoy works such as The World According to Garp and MASH

Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion

* I am holding the end result in my hand. 
* It has a beginning, a middle, and an end.   
* Words form sentences, sentences form
   paragraphs which in turn form chapters.

Yes, by jove! 

I do believe that this experiment produced a book!

Commnicate Your Results

This is what people are saying:

“Readers, get ready for a hysterical, wild, whacky read that
  will keep you biting your nails till the end. ” 

“The characters in this book are diverse, complicated and

“The ending will simply blow you out of the water.”

and Quinn's personal favorite:

"A book this weird shouldn't work, but this one does, magnificently."

To read all of our reviews click on this LINK 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


  1. Great idea for collaboration! Great idea for a book! I wish you both huge success!

  2. Thank you kindly, Ellis. We're very excited.

  3. So very well done, Fiona! You and JD make a dynamic duo! You have my five stars!

  4. Thank you, Billy Ray. So much fun to do!


  5. I love of all John's books although I haven't had a chance to read yours yet, Fiona. I'm looking forward to this one that's queued up in my Kindle....

    1. Hi Olga, I had no idea that you and John knew each other - very small world. I can't wait to hear what you think! Happy reading!


  6. This is hilarious. Considering my fear of strangers, I doubt that I could take on an experiment like that, so I'm impressed.

  7. Thank you kindly - I hope the book makes you laugh as well :)

    Cheers to you!

  8. I will read it!! (It's got me thinking about that co-writing idea now ...)

    1. Looking forward to knowing what you think :)
      Happy reading,

  9. Utterly bonkers concept, Good luck with it, the pair of you

    1. Ha! Well no disputing that. And thank you.


    2. Fiona and John, your explanation is quite promising. Can't wait to read the book. May you continue to work together/apart with differences/common goals and have a great time producing a wonderful book. Mary Latela