Continuing on from yesterday's assessment of the resources I have for free: words aren't my only skill. I also have mad technical skills! Or moderate ones, anyway. I'm fluent in social media tools, I know my way around a domain registrar and I've spent time with a host or two in my day. I'm no web designer, but I know about templates and can fumble my way around a CSS file if need be. I can set up a MySQL instance or a wiki. In a pinch I can write code or modify someone else's, but I'm not very good at it and I don't enjoy it, so making my own iOS app (for example) is probably not a winning strategy. (There are more things I can do, too, but we'll wait on that for next time.)
All of this adds up to a logical conclusion: It would be easy for me to make a web and social media component of Felicity. So I should do it, right? Well... maybe. It's complicated.
Let's take a little bit of a tangent here and I'll finally tell you what Felicity is about! This is the story of the Luckiest Girl in the World -- Literally: Felicity Stone. It's also about her very much less lucky friend Lindsay Mallory. It's been knocking around in my head long enough that I know the theme: It's about coming to terms with the fact that the world is fundamentally unfair. Also: luck-eaters, Hollywood, technomagicians, dark conspiracies, the Ancient Order of Turtles.
You guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this world I'm building. Finding a real thing and giving it a secret, magical underbelly is mad fun. Telling you about it right now, though, is one of the most terrifying things I've ever done. But hey, that's the creative life, isn't it?
So! Back to structure: The obvious thing to do would be make social media presences for Felicity and Lindsay. There are problems with this, though -- lots and lots and lots of problems. Oh, good heavens, the problems, let me list them.
1. Social media for main characters is time-intensive. This approach would require me to put in a lot of hours acting as Felicity and Lindsay online. But there will be periods where I simply won't have the time to do that -- there are periods now where I can hardly even be myself on social media. As fun as it might be to do, if I committed to doing it right, I'd probably have to turn away paying client work. Nobody would be more surprised than me to see Felicity make enough money to give up client work! On the flip side, I'm absolutely unwilling to compromise on audience experience and say "Well, sometimes if I'm busy they just won't be online." That is a lousy, lousy way to treat the people who love you. Sooo... yeah, we need something that will be less of a time sink.
2. It creates a barrier to entry. A social media presence would need to reflect evolution over time to remain interesting. But that means that new readers and participants won't be able to just jump in any time; they'd have a lot of catching up to do first. I want barrier to entry to be as low as possible, in order to reach the maximum amount of readers possible.
3. It takes away value from the core story instead of adding to it. Any social media presence for these characters would necessarily exist in the spaces between chapters, or would overlap with those chapters. Or to frame it another way... with this approach, I'm taking out parts of the story from the middle and giving them away for free when I could be selling them; I'm creating redundancy that negates the need to buy the chapters at all; or I'm creating filler content for social media that is boring and doesn't further the story. All of these options suck.
That means I need to find another way to use my mad web skillz to my advantage. My requirements: Not too time-intensive; plausibly not responsive in real time; not terribly expensive or technically complex to deploy (registering a few dozen domain names adds up); building out a part of the world that overlaps with the books enough to seem linked, but not so much that both aren't adding meaningful layers to the same story. Even better if I can provide a group identity for my audience and create an easy way to deploy a challenge/reward structure.
My solution: I think I'm going to set up a presence for the Turtles, and induct my audience into that noble and ancient fraternity. The Turtles are a secretive and illustrious group whose behind-the-scenes actions underpin a fair shake of the action in the story -- so this means that the audience will get to affect the things that happen to Felicity and Lindsay even without talking to the luck-addled pair directly.
Also, I've been holding out on you a little bit: Madame Zee is in this story, and her already-intermittent online presence will grow to reflect the goings-on of Felicity. So there's that, too.