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An Even Split

July 25, 2011 | Cameron | Comments (17)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a rather remarkable novel as it tells the story of two young men with the exact same name. These two young men are quite different, but at the same time oddly similar. The two men are differentiated by the fact that the one never has his name in capitals in the book.

This book was a labour or remarkable divides. Divides in the sense that David Leviathan and John Green evenly split up the chapters and wrote the first three chapters before reconvening to see if it would work. The only thing that they agreed upon was that the two characters would eventually meet in the novel. Meeting up after writing the first three chapters it became quite clear that they had something significant and eloquent and they decided to keep working on it, separately, but together.

My first introduction to this kind of colloborative work was with the band "some girls", the three ladies in the band all lived in different parts of America and so they would work on songs and music and then email them, or play chords over the phone until they had a list of workable titles and then they would meet together in the studio to record. I find this approach to creative endeavours fascinating and I marvel at the fact that modern technology allows us to do this.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson debuted at the number one spot on the New York times children's best seller list and it stayed there for three weeks. The novel itself is really about identity and two young men with the same name trying to find out who they really are. This book may not be for everyone, but those who do engage with it will most likely walk away with something new in their minds.


I even encourage you young writers to try this writing approach with some of your friends. Start writing a chapter and then pass it on to the next person and let them complete a chapter and then they pass it on and etc. Then at the end you have a great collaborative novel that you can read through and see where other people took your original ideas and characters. Maybe you will love it, maybe you will hate it, but the experience could be worth it.


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The web space of Toronto Public Library's 2011 teen summer reading program. Feel free to look around, but the summer of 2011 is over now.