Witch World, An Urban Fantasy Shared World

Witch World - By Charles Moffat, January 21st 2020.

I came up with the concept for this earlier today and I got so excited I needed to make a logo. A basic logo, but it will do for now.

But first, let me explain how this came to be.

A year ago I saw a posting on Facebook from a fellow writer who was looking to co-write a book / anthology with other writers, which would be an urban fantasy set in Earth and featuring witches (and wizards, warlocks, etc).

A total of 13 authors came together and the project was initially called "13 Witches".

That project however has become rather stillborn. It never survived its infancy.

Each author in the project was supposed to write 3 chapters each, with the '13 witch characters' coming together by the finale to defeat the villain(s).

At the time I wrote my chapters leading up to the finale, but realizing that this project was starting to look more and more doomed I started thinking about what could be done with the story I was writing if the project never made it to print.

Authors started dropping out of the project. The viability of the group was faltering.

This is the problem with writers collectives. Any time a group of writers tries to write something together there are going to be a series of hiccups and the end product will either be horrible and unreadable (not literally unreadable, metaphorically and figuratively speaking), or it will never make it to print anyway because the authors are too different, cannot agree on anything, and they each have a different concept for what they want to write about.

And frankly if they all wrote about the exact same thing the writing would get boring very quickly.

Take the Trillium series for example. The Trillium series is a series of five fantasy novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton. While it must have sounded like a great idea on paper, having three writers co-write the first book was clearly a bad idea.
  • Black Trillium (1990, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and Andre Norton)
  • Blood Trillium (1992, by Julian May)
  • Golden Trillium (1993, by Andre Norton)
  • Lady of the Trillium (1995, by Marion Zimmer Bradley)
  • Sky Trillium (1997, by Julian May)
Granted, they still sold books, what with the name recognition of brand name authors behind it, but it was definitely not a bestselling series. "Too many cooks in the kitchen" is an apt description for what went wrong with the first book. The 2nd to 5th books were not so bad, as the authors had more creative freedom to do what they want.

Anywho, back to the topic at hand.

"13 Witches" was doomed from the beginning.

I could in theory publish my chapters as a short story or novella, finishing the book by myself, but I still liked the idea of the other writers from the project doing their contributions.

Then earlier today I had a lightbulb moment, followed by a second lightbulb moment.

I was talking to another writer on Twitter (see twitter.com/charlesmoffat) and I got an idea concerning the issue of copyright ownership of shared worlds.

Essentially, shared worlds suffer from an issue. Who owns the copyright? Who owns the rights to publish books set within that world? The writers? The publishers? Both? Can anyone just write a book set in the shared world, or do they need permission?

And then I had that lightbulb moment and it occurred to me "What if the shared world had an anonymous copyright owner?" Meaning the copyright was completely anonymous and no one else could claim ownership. It could be run through a Facebook page or other websites anonymously. Just create a shared world, create logos/etc for it, promote it anonymously, and then other authors can join in and self-publish their work independently.

Following this I had a second lightbulb moment. What if the "13 Witches" group changed their goal from writing a book together to writing their books independently, under a different name, but still using a shared world?

None of us could claim sole independent ownership of the shared world, as it had been a group effort to create the shared fantasy world of the book in the first place. The big change here is that now each author can publish their stories independently using the common name.

We can let in other writers. No more "13 Witches", we can let in as many authors as want to join in the group effort. We need a different name. Thus "Witch World" became a thing.

Note - I did not create the shared world. That was a group effort. I only came up with the name.

A thing with a logo, because I got so excited about the concept I needed to make a logo. Even if it is just a temporary logo. (Probably going to change it later.)

The writers involved could:

  • Write as much or as little as they desire.
  • Write independently.
  • Publish independently.
  • Self-publish via whatever 3rd parties we want to (Amazon, Kobo, etc).
  • Publish multiple stories, novellas or novels in the shared world.
  • Price their work as they fit.
  • Collect their individual profits.
  • Use characters that appear in the work of other writers in the group.
  • Benefit from marketing synergy from the group effort.
  • Write and illustrate a graphic novel set within the shared world if they wanted to.

Now I only have one problem...

I am anxiously waiting to hear back from the other writers involved in the project. I have yet to learn what they have to say about the idea of converting our failed book effort into a shared world concept.

If nobody else is on board with the concept I may have to just go it alone.

Publish my story solo, as a standalone work of urban fantasy. I would prefer to do the shared world with the other writers from the group, the more the merrier, but if it doesn't happen then oh well.

I should have an answer within 48 hours.

Also I still like the idea of an "Anonymous Shared Fantasy World". I would need to come with a name for such a place, promote it secretly, write/publish the first book or short story anonymously. Then later I could join the shared world under my own name.

Or not.

I already have my own world that I created back in 1999. Korovia. 21 years and growing. I don't need to create another fantasy world. I am very busy enough as is with my own creation.

But that doesn't mean that a different writer could not read this and go "Hmm... I like this concept. I am going to create an Anonymous Shared Fantasy World where other authors can write and self-publish their work."

In which case please invite me to contribute to it.

In fact, if you already have a world of your own I would love to contribute to it. Maybe a short story. Maybe something bigger. Depends on how inspired by your world I am and whether I want to make a bigger commitment.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I really like shared fantasy worlds. I just wish there was ways authors could collaborate more easily together without stepping on each other's toes with respect to who owns the copyright to the fictional world you are using.

Happy Reading!

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