What if novels were like software?

What if novels were like software?

By novel, I mean a work of creative fiction that you write, that you want people to read and like.

You could write something kinda crappy, and release it.

Your friends and family would read it. They would offer suggestions. If it’s good enough, other people you don’t know might read it. They would have thoughts and feedback.

You would learn what most people like about it.
You would learn what most people don’t like about it.
If you find a bunch of people complaining that a character was racist or sexist, you would know that that was a bug in your novel.

You would get all this feedback from “the market” about what “they really want” from your “product”.

You could then create a backlog of feedback.

Then, you could prioritize your backlog.

Then, you could start planning future “releases” of your novel, with a less sexist character, or a less racist plot arc, or more impactful scene-setting, or prettier language.

Then you could “release” versions of your novel “iteratively”. Like software.

By the time a year goes by, you could have created something that more people like. Readers who already read your book might be curious to read it again, to see what changed. The rate of new readers interested in reading your book would increase, because the book will have gotten better. You could keep iterating on your novel until it was just so fantastic. And then, you will have ended up authoring a great novel — not all at once in one fell swoop, but over time, using readers’ feedback to make it perfect.

The contemporary literature landscape would have so many beautiful and perfect works of art.

What if this worked for not just novels, but non-fiction?
What if this worked for not just non-fiction, but all writing?
What if this worked for scientific articles? Research papers? Journalism?
What if this worked for sculptures? All Art? Relationships? Concepts? Everything?

What if there was always a mindset that allowed for the first thing that is born into the world to be grossly imperfect, and processes to allow it to become better and better and even great?

This assumes, of course, standards for what makes writing, and just things, good or bad. But the newness of this concept, for me, is the ability to get something “out to the market” like what startups are always talking about. And allow it to exist, seen and touched even though you, the creator, knows there are things you didn’t get “right”. Create something full of what you think are mistakes, but find out from exposure to feedback which ones are really what people care about, and which ones you’d like to fix. Maybe some of the things you think are mistakes are things that a lot of people actually like!

That could be cool, I think! Maybe it would motivate many more people to try their hand at all creative endeavors. The expectation to come out with something “really good” on the first try would not exist! Less pressure, more art, and outputs that are always getting better!

This kinda already happens a little with things like corrections to an article or new versions of textbooks. But not with novels and stuff, that I’ve seen. I kinda wanna do this now with everything I create 🙂


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