Seminar, Wednesday 9 March 2011, room WIN002-003, Royal Holloway, University of London

Software Engineering the Novel

Joe Reddington


Last year, a group of undergraduate students at Royal Holloway College used computer science techniques to collectively write a 60,000 word novel, "The Shadow Hours", in seven days. Later, a second group produced a more complex novel "The Delivery", of the same length, in five and a half days. Of particular interest was the development of the volunteers. They were involved in the full workflow of novel writing from inception and structure to proofing and choosing a cover illustration, and this greatly increased their investment and focus on the work. The environment allowed great progress in both their subject skills of structuring, characterisation, and word choice, but also the softer skills of teamwork, communication, and feedback. Project TooManyCooks won Royal Holloway's Team Teaching Prize this summer and has attracted various small amounts of commercialisation and outreach funding. This talk is particularly intended for students and staff with an interest computer science, education, or creative writing. Works by Dan Brown, Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling pop up as examples -- familiarity isn't required but the talk will definitely spoil some plot twists.