What is Plan B?

DISCLAIMER: Plan B is a work of fiction. All of the characters, incidents, and dialogue, except for incidental references to public figures, products, or services, are imaginary and are not intended to refer to any living persons or disparage any company's products or services.

Short answer: Plan B is an experiment in writing.

Long answer: Stories usually have a strong element of time built into them, just like a weblog. A weblog, however, is a story where the beginning changes every day: what we see is the last element that was posted. The question that Plan B is trying to answer is: is it possible to create a story that makes sense, keeps the reader engaged, and yet can be "consumed" in bits and pieces, maybe even in any order? This is not the same as a hypertextual story (some of which have been attempted in the past, both in book form and electronically). The idea here is that the time dimension exists --and is relevant-- if you look for it (say, by starting to read it from the first entry) but each entry can also be read as an independent element. Ideally (as I mentioned before), you should also be able to navigate the text in different directions, which means that the story will be more "experiential" than plot-oriented. I hate plot-oriented stories anyway.

This long answer might not have been long enough to encapsulate all the ideas that Plan B implies, but it's a start. Enough to cure any initial confusion, hopefully. :-) If you have more specific question, check out the Plan B FAQ, or email me at .

Important Note: there have been a few comments here and there, posted on other blogs or emailed to me, along the lines of "Why is this important?" or "Why should we care?" or "You're wasting our time!" or saying that having named Plan B a "blognovel" (that is, coming up with a new term for it) is a ridiculous if not idiotic ploy to make Plan B appear interesting or new or groundbreaking or whatever, when it's not. 

Now, do I think that Plan B is "groundbreaking" or "revolutionary" or whatever? No. I never said it was, I didn't think it was when I started it, and I don't think it is now, almost a month into it. Very few things are really revolutionary, and this is not one of them. Considering that serialized stories in many forms and mediums have existed basically since day-to-day media (e.g., newspapers and TV) appeared, simply extending that idea into weblogs is nothing but applying the concept to a slightly different format (note that it's not even a new medium, since the medium is the web). Plan B is simply an experiment and nothing more. As with any weblog, it is public and so subject to immediate criticism, but it's also a private exploration. An internal discourse made public. That's what weblogs are about.

Let me say it again, so it's clear: Plan B is simply an exploration of what weblogs and their constraints do to narrative. It is not "revolutionary", or "groundbreaking", or anything even remotely like it, period.

And regarding the term "blognovel" (or "blog novel", whichever you prefer)...

A distinct term, a simple, unambiguous way of referring to something (even if it is short-lived) is important I think. Calling "Plan B" a "serialized novel" would have put it in a category that already exists, and therefore affect the discussion. Already it has been useful. Discussions have sprung up looking at why it is like serial novels (or other things) and why it isn't. If it had been called "a serial novel" the discussion would have turned into "why it's a stupid idea to write a serial novel on a weblog" which is not the point at all. Using this particular term is simply meant to simplify the discussion. Not to pretend I've "invented" something: I've not. And it would be ridiculous for anyone, starting with myself, to pretend that invention follows semantics. If anything, it's the other way around.

The same messages that criticize the term also (usually) contain (sometimes harsh) criticism of Plan B's style, or imply that there is a "right way" to write fiction (meaning that I'm not doing it), or both. Regarding that, I can only say that books have been written in every conceivable style of prose. Plan B, with its "conversational" and sometimes stream-of-consciousness narrative is not that far from standard fiction narrative. I chose that style because it seemed that it's what would fit a weblog structure more naturally, and some people like it, and some don't, but that's the case with anything in this world, from refrigerator designs, to paintings, to political speeches. The fact that there is a strong correlation between the people that think the concept is idiotic and the people that don't like the writing also seems to imply that the content might affect how the format is perceived, which shouldn't come as a terrible surprise I guess.