Welcome, dear reader, no matter how long you have been wandering these virtual pages.
A wonderful feature of this site is the ability to collaborate on stories with others, be they strangers or long-time friends. This is, admittedly, an intimidating thought for those new to such a world, or even those new to this particular site and how things have been done here in the past. I am happy to offer some thoughts and musings on the subject.
When I first joined Protagonize I was interested in collaborating. I had worked in collaborative styles before, but never in such a way that I could just jump right in and add at will without an invitation or a previous discussion. I looked around and found myself feeling rather overwhelmed. Was it ok if I added? Would I do it right? What if I screwed up the story?
Well, fear no more. Collaboration is desired here. No matter who you are, we want to see you writing. We want to share in it. So we all hope you are willing to share your stories with us, and we hope you will join in ours. Collaboration is also a great way to meet new people and get some exposure for your writing.
First things first, find a story you find intriguing. Something that inspires you or feels safe is a good start. Find something you want to add to.
Nickb, our wonderful webmaster and the head looney, has added a feature that allows any author to determine if a story is meant to be solo or collaborative. If you are reading a story, look at the right side of the page under "The Goods." If you see "This is a collaborative story" then the first hurdle is crossed: The original author has every intention of allowing others to join them in creating the story.
The next thing to check is the "Author's Guidance." It has been the habit on this site to note here if a story is intended to be reserved for particular authors (at least until Nick gets groups running). If you truly are desperate to add to a story that is listed as being for specific authors, get in touch with the original author. Ask. You never know. ;) The worst they can do is say no, but they might say yes, or suggest another story.
From there, do a quick scan of the comments just to make sure there are no "Editorial Note"s (that blue star in a square marks them). They, along with the author's guidance will give you tips about whether there are certain expectations or requests for how to fit into the story.
When in doubt, feel free to leave a message on the story or on a profile asking for help. Authors always like attention on their stories, and helpfulness is how we make thing nice here.
From this point, all that is left is to take a deep breath and start writing. Regardless of who you are, you can post. You can do this. Keep in mind the type of story you are adding to. If it has a specific tone, try to follow that. If it is silly, then you can probably be as silly as you want. If it is more serious it is probably best to stick with that. Look at the tags and what the story is filed under. Read all the proceeding chapters.
It is possible another reader or author may have suggestions or may notice something that could use fixing (typos are generally ignored, but sometimes a style does not fit or a name is wrong, etc). If you see someone comment about that, please do not panic. Honest, it is ok. If you can still edit the chapter, you are welcome to do so. If not, do not worry. We all understand. Just keep it in mind for the next addition.
Aside from just taking a deep breath and going for it, I would suggest that some of the easiest stories to add to are those specifically begun to be collaborative. Many of the authors here enjoy coming up with ideas for stories that blatantly encourage collaboration. There have been numerous poems begun to allow each author to explore something. Some stories are written as challenges or exercises with specific guidelines for how to write the next chapter (TheRiverTalker is an expert at such tales). Look around. Stories started this way are often easier and less threatening to join.
Another hint is to look for stories that are shorter, especially if you are new to collaboration. There is little more daunting than thinking about adding to a story that is already 16 chapters long. It can be scary. It can be intimidating reading chapters by other authors and then wonder whether yours will live up to the previous additions. Well, do not fear. We want you to add!