What is Wootenshire?
Wootenshire is a fictional county, created as a setting for my stories. More than that it’s a place that has its own reality independent of the books that I write. It’s a place where many writers can come together and collaborate. I hope it won’t be seen as my place but as a co-operative place.
Think of it like fan-fiction, but with all stories on an equal footing, and the ability to profit from your hard work. This last point is important – all authors retain the traditional copyright in their own work, but license other writers to create derivative works.
How will that work?
Working with a firm of solicitors, I’m in the process of commissioning a new licence, called a Shared World Licence, and Wootenshire is the first use of this, a test-case. There are three key parts of the system, the Shared World License, the Wiki and the rules. Works released under this license will have the advantage of marketing as part of Wootenshire and readers who’ll want to learn more about the world. In return, they’ll contribute to the world and help it grow.
A wiki is software to create a user curated encyclopaedia, the most famous of which is WIkipedia. Wootenshire has its own wiki which lists all the caracters with speaking roles and all the locations. As books are released, the wiki will grow. Warning to readers though, this does mean the wiki will contain SPOILERS for anyone who hasn’t read everything.
The front page of the wiki contains the rules for the world and they’re repeated here as well.
- Wootenshire is part of the real world. Everything that happens here should be explainable. We have no problem welcoming spiritual people of all faiths, and characters should be free to express their beliefs. However, we will not allow any psychic or paranormal behaviour that is verified by outside witnesses. So, no lights in the sky or people levitating or telepathy for example. Your characters are free to pray to their gods and observe unlikely coincidences, but there should always be enough room for a sceptic to explain it all.
- This is a place for contemporary or historical fiction. As long as your stories are set in the real world and either in the present (whenever you’re reading this) or the past, then you’ll be fine.
- No fantasy elements are allowed, including but not limited to mysterious creatures, fairies, vampires, werewolves, you get the idea!
- Likewise, sci-fi or speculative fiction are not allowed.
What about the readers?
If a reader sees that a book is an Official Wootenshire Licensed Product then they’ll know that they’re back in a familiar world. If there’s a couple where one reads psychological thrillers and the other reads romance, they could find common characters wandering in and out of each other’s books. From Jilly Cooper to Star Trek, via Harry Potter and Marvel Cinematic Universe, everyone loves a consistent internal universe. The difference is that this one will span several genres.
This is very early days but there are a number of ways you can get involved.
If you’re a writer and want to contribute, get in touch and I’ll help you get all setup to add to Wootenshire. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a reader, bookmark, subscribe and sign up to receive updates.
If you’re a blogger, journalist, broadcaster or other influencer, again, get in touch and I’ll tell you all about it.
Finally, my long term goal is to have the Shared World License as something that other people can use. If you fancy having a world with fixed rules that could be anything from fantasy to sci-fi to alternative history then get in touch. When I get the license sorted, we can talk about sharing it and modifying it for your purposes.