The Coterie Project
Put simply, the Coterie Project involves groups of storytellers gathering into teams and pooling their resources to broadcast one story after another to the outside world (most likely via YouTube.) In so doing, all involved can ensure they stay working on creative undertakings and give and receive criticism and support, hopefully gain exposure and, where appropriate, help ease people away from self-conscious tendencies which might otherwise get in the way of self-promotion and marketing.
Failing all that, it may well just be a bit of fun or a chance to make friends.
The basic outline of the process involved is as follows:
1. At least four (but no more than eight) persons assemble into a coterie and one from amongst them is chosen to serve as moderator (admin, overseer, governor etc.) More on their role later.
2. The designated storyteller (the order of storytellers shall be arranged alphabetically by surname) shall write a tale between 500 and 4000 words, proofread it, proofread it again and then distribute it to the rest of their coterie. Said coterie members will politely refrain from pointing out any remaining spelling errors as there are always some that somehow manage to slip the net, always, without exception there is always… (ahem) anyway, the storyteller will record a narration of their story and the coterie members will provide the voices for the characters therein.
3. When all is recorded, the storyteller shall edit lines, sound effects, music and anything else together into the finished story. Fashion a simple title card in a simple video editing program and stretch it over the audio to make a video version, attach credits at the end, export and upload it to YouTube.
4. The process is repeated with the next person on the list, then the next, going round in a continuous loop.
NOTE: It’s not required that a coterie focus on short stories. If you’re a team of singers, filmmakers, poets, cactus enthusiasts or whatever, work the system around your creative choice. Alternatively, mix and match projects if everyone's tastes and talents are different.
Whilst any coterie falls to its members to oversee, I have drawn up the following rules in an attempt to keep things enjoyable, civil and practical as much as possible. Apologies for repetitions:
1. No less than four people in a coterie and no more than eight. A mix of men and women is strongly recommended for voice acting purposes.
2. One person from the coterie is to serve as moderator. They will be responsible for managing the YouTube channel, rearranging schedules if required, handling any inquiries or issues which may arise and ensuring the smooth running of the coterie.
3. Whoever's turn it is to tell their story shall be the one to manage the project, assign roles, set deadlines, collect recordings from their fellows and edit together the finished audio and video files.
4. It falls to the storyteller's coterie to provide voices for a story's dialogue and roles are assigned by the storyteller. That said, if a line or character causes discomfort or distress to someone, they need not read for the role and are not to be pressured to do so but, that said, anyone joining a coterie should expect to receive frequent roles and, generally speaking, be willing and able to record lines as required.
5. If anyone in a coterie becomes intolerably difficult, lazy, churlish, presumptuous or tyrannical, cast them out and find a worthier soul to replace them. This should be done with the agreement of every other member of a coterie. (NOTE: This is perhaps especially important if it's the moderator who has become insufferable.)
6. If you wish to leave a coterie, please do your peers the courtesy of informing them. If someone leaves, it falls to the moderator to advertise the open space in the coterie. Any new member must be approved by all the group before joining.
7. When a coterie becomes more of a chore than anything else for any or all concerned, it’s either time for a shake-up or a shut-down. There’s no sense persisting if you’re getting nothing from the experience.
8. No sneaky hoarding of stories in the coterie. You need to be using this as a platform to get yourselves noticed by potential future buyers and have the world acknowledge your creative genius.
9. At least 20 people from everyone who goes on to be part of a coterie are required to fall in love and get married as an indirect result, or at the very least find a new tennis partner.
10. If you can think up a better name than ‘The Coterie Project’ feel free to use it.