Setting up The City of Refuge: An Interactive Tale

The Agile Publishing Model

A couple years ago, I took part in a writing contest called JukePop Serials. JukePop used a concept called “agile publishing” in a contest between writers who wrote their stories in episodes, kinda like the old serials of the 1930s-1950s. The idea was that the writer would come up with the first episode, and then the readers would comment on which way the story was supposed to go. The writer would then use that feedback to do the next part.

Neat idea, huh?

I enjoy the old movie serials, so I came up with the basic idea for The Condemned Courier, submitted it, and away we went!

With my school work out of the way, I decided to try it again here.

The Logistics

Here’s how it’ll work.

      1. In 2 weeks, I’ll post Episode 1 of City of Refuge.

      2. The episode will end with the character at a decision point, and then I’ll stop and ask you a question with a couple options.

      3. You comment either here in the blog or on the link that will show up on my Facebook page with your choice.

      4. I’ll post the next episode.

      5. Lather, rinse, repeat (from Step 2)


What if no one responds? What if there’s a tie? Then I’ll use some manner of random number generator (an app, dice, coin, whatever’s handy) to break the tie or make the decision.

If I have an idea I like better than your suggestions, can I suggest it? Sure, and if it gets votes and I approve of the option, I’ll even go for it.

With some answers on your FB page and some here, how will I know what the final decision is for the next episode? Oh, I may leave a comment the day after the voting closes.

How often will you post? I plan to post an episode on Wednesday, then leave comments open until the next Wednesday, then write the next episode to post on the following Wednesday … so new episodes will post every 2 weeks in a perfect world when all goes well.

How will I know you posted a new episode? Well, if you’re following my blog, it’ll tell you. If you follow my writer page on Facebook, the links will post there. I’ll try to remember to post the links to my personal page, too, so if we’re pals, you might see it show up in your newsfeed that way. If you look at the previous episode’s date, you can skip the following Wednesday and the one after that will be the next episode.

How long will the episodes be? Long enough to get to the next point. JukePop required 1500-2000 words per episode (except the first which could be up to 5000ish, IIRC). Sometimes I found that too short. Sometimes that was excruciatingly too long and I had to pass up a good cliffhanger and keep going to the next one. Ultimately? I expect most to fall into the 1000-2000 word range again, but there will very likely be some much shorter or somewhat longer. It’ll depend on where I find a good decision point. That could be much longer than my Sunday blog posts, which I tend to go for about 600-1000 words.

What if I miss a week? No worries. The posts shouldn’t be going anywhere. You may not get to comment, but you can catch up.

What happens when you’re done with it? Well, on an ideal planet, I’ll compile it into a novel like I did with The Condemned Courier and find it a publisher. (Actually, with Condemned Courier, I found it a publisher after the JukePop contract was fulfilled, and the publisher said, “Hey! Make it a novel!” … so I did.) I think I know a couple who would be amused with the basic premise of the tale I have in mind.

Speaking of which…

The Story Premise

For the basis, go read Numbers 35. No worries. I picked a translation that isn’t too hard to sift through.

Short version (based on a lecture series I listened to a looooong time ago): Ancient Israel was pretty stern about how to deal with most crimes. The Torah (first 5 books of the Bible, basically) goes into major detail about what to do with criminals of many sorts. Numbers 35 explains what to do if someone kills a person by accident. The default answer is “kill the murderer.” This was to be done by the nearest kinsman, the “Goel,” who was the Avenger of Blood (and the Kinsman Redeemer in other circumstances, but anyway…).

In this case, the murder was not intentional, what the US calls “manslaughter.” Because it wasn’t intentional, the murderer can run quick like a bunny to outrace the Avenger to go to a City of Refuge. There he had to convince the judges that he did not kill the other guy on purpose. If he convinced the judge, he was homefree, BUT … he had to stay in the City of Refuge until the high priest in Jerusalem died. If he left the City of Refuge before the high priest died, the Avenger could legally kill him.

Now, we’re doing speculative fiction here, so we can take some liberties with the historical details, but that’s the basis for this adventure.

The First Questions

I don’t plan to let you off the hook too easily this time. You get to help me set up the first episode. Answer these in the comments or on my FB writer page if you want to play.

      1. What genre? Science fiction or fantasy? (You can specify a subgenre if you want).

      2. Setting (time)? Medieval, Renaissance, Wild West, Victorian, Early 20th, Modern, Near Future, Distant Future?

      3. Setting (place)? Real Earth, Earth-like, Colony on another planet, Space

Okay? You have a week to think about it and post your answers.

Ready … Steady … GO!!!


5 thoughts on “Setting up The City of Refuge: An Interactive Tale

  1. Edward Forrest Frank

    Science fiction – the Wild West – Space

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sci-fi, distant future, alien planet or space

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And the result is…

    Genre: Sci-fi

    Setting (time): tie! Heads: Wild West; Tails: Distant future
    And… (scrounging for a coin)…Tails! Distant future. (No doubt at least one character will have a drawl. I do like playing with accents).

    Setting (place): space

    So! The City of Refuge will be a science fiction tale set in the distant future in space.

    Stay tuned. I’ll write the first episode, and if all goes well, post it next Wednesday.


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