Is this one of our story’s heroes? Or one of its villains?

Eric Mack/CNET

Since he died, Charles has been quite happy at his new job in a parallel universe that he’s pretty sure is actually heaven. Meanwhile, his widow, a teacher named Rebecca, is back on Earth and growing tired of living forever with the help of some pretty amazing biotechnology. And what the heck happened to young Cindy’s mother that led the government to pull Cindy out of Rebecca’s class?

Those are just a few developments in CNET’s grand experiment in crowdsourcing an original science-fiction novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. We’ve been at it for just over five days, and already contributors and editors from around the world have helped to shape the first three chapters of our story, set a few decades in the future and across the multiverse.

The goal is to complete a 50,000-word novel by November 30, and there’s plenty of room for you to pitch in and shape the story, the characters and the universe(s) they inhabit.

It’s pretty simple: Just visit our collaborative online sandbox version of the story at and start suggesting additions or changes — or add an entire chapter! (We’re using a Google Doc, so if you want to get credit for your participation, you’ll need to be logged in to a named Google account, but you can be anonymous if you prefer.)

Eric Mack/CNET

Once you’re involved, you can also join our Facebook group to discuss where to take the story and characters in more detail.

When November is over, I’ll take some time to edit, revise, clean things up and get a final draft ready that will run in installments on CNET.

We also want to recognize a few of the many contributors who have already been killing it, like Scott Stevens, who’s been bringing the character of Cindy to life in chapter 3, and Seth Eilbott, who’s been proofreading and copyediting our draft with his eagle eye. These are just two names from a growing list of contributors, which you can find at the bottom of the draft here. We’ll be working to give shout-outs to the biggest contributors over the coming weeks.

In fact, I was so inspired by our crowdsourced effort today that I grabbed my favorite actors (yep, I’m one of them) and shot this quick scene from chapter 3:

If you know anyone who can add some sweet special effects to that scene so it has a little more of a 2050 feel, please tell them to have at it.

For more background on the project, check out my kickoff post from the beginning of the week, and keep an eye on Crave for future updates.

All right, enough procrastinating. There are only 24 days remaining to save the multiverse. Will you join us?


Three chapters in, CNET's crowdsourced sci-fi novel is coming to life