Romance readers and writers are joined together in a relationship similar to characters who’ve found their happily ever after: neither partner can thrive without the other. Readers support writers by following their work, and writers support readers by writing books they will enjoy. It can be difficult as a writer to gauge what our readers desire, so we usually write the story we are compelled to tell. But what if writers did know what their readers wanted? What if writers could actively collaborate with their readers in order to create a shared story experience?

That’s the purpose behind Readers Create, an online social media project that encourages authors to write a short story with the guidance and input of their readers. Readers Create utilizes the creativity of readers and writers, both established and beginning, in an innovative crowdsourced format.

The Readers Create model is simple to follow. Writers will choose one or more social media platforms to engage readers, and use questions and polls to shape how a short story will be written. Facebook groups are a strong choice because they allow writers to make different polls with multiple posts, but writers can also use a blog, website forum, facebook page, Goodreads group, twitter, tumblr or other interactive tool. Readers can help a writer choose which website they would prefer to interact on.

The writer’s first polls will decide what genre and sub-genre the short story is, what story tropes to use (friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, second chance lovers, F/F or M/M, ménage, etc.), and what character tropes to use (vampires, bosses, military vets, cowboys, etc.). Writers can get broader input from readers by giving them the ability to add poll answer options. Once the writer has the bones of the story, the next step is asking for input on specific plot and character elements. This can be done either through polling or asking for direct suggestions from readers. If direct suggestions are used, please be sure to list the reader’s preferred name on the acknowledgments page.

For readers, Readers Create offers a chance to share ideas that deserve to be in stories. It allows you to engage with your favorite authors and let them know what kind of tropes or plot and character elements you’d like to see in future books. Your participation in the project can be limited to your favorite authors, or you can join the general Readers Create: Romance facebook group and see polls from any participating author. Readers Create is a great way to find out about new authors, especially since you can see the story as it develops to decide whether you want to read it. You’re also part of the publicity of the book – you can brag to your friends about the stories you shaped and created.

I don’t have the ability to reach every author, so it’s important for readers to tell their favorite writers about Readers Create. Encourage them to pick a month when they can start their own story. Give them a link to this blog post for more details. Not every writer will have the time to participate, but it never hurts to ask. And since Readers Create is an ongoing project, they will always have the option of participating in the future when they do have the time.

For writers, you have complete freedom with how often you question or poll, and you can be flexible depending on how fast your readers respond. Established writers can write as part of your published series or universe, or you can do something completely new. Writers have the choice over how and where to publish your stories – whether it’s as a one off, as part of a collection of short stories, or as part of anthology. The price is up to your discretion. Writers can participate in Readers Create once or as often as you prefer. If you want to write a novella or novel instead of a short story, that’s great, too. Please just indicate in your acknowledgments that your story was part of Readers Create so we can spread the idea to more people.

For beginning writers, Readers Create offers a unique way to learn how to tell a story. You may be the type of person who has thought about writing, but end up staring at a blank page. You may be a person who has some ideas, but aren’t sure how to put them together. By going through the polling and questioning process, you will have readers helping you to assemble the elements of your story. If you get stuck somewhere, ask the readers to get you unstuck! If you have a great idea for an ending, but don’t know the beginning, have the readers help you out!

Readers Create is the easiest entry point into becoming a writer because you have a constant sounding board to approach with questions and problems. Plus, a short story is an easier proposition than an entire novel. If you’re interested in making the transition from reader to writer, there are a lot of great resources on the web for learning to write. A good place to start is www.rwa.org, the Romance Writers of America. Since beginning writers won’t have established readers, you can join the Readers Create: Romance facebook group and interact that way.

Whether you’re a writer or reader, you’ll be able to join the discussion in the Readers Create: Romance facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/152887681978868/. To see how the process happens, join my readers group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/643059502568853/. I am a new author, so I would love for you to be part of my group and help me shape my October short story. My personal goal is to write a Readers Create story every month for the next year, so you can be sure of at least one other writer doing Readers Create for the foreseeable future.

If you have questions about Readers Create, you can ask in either of the facebook groups listed, or via any method on my website: https://www.chesselahelm.com/contact-information