Warning: there are some mild spoilers included on this page!
I began the story The search for Kalid as my first English story (I'm not a native English speaker) in April 6th 2008. The first edit is this. It was my intention to write a story based on the space travel genre, influenced mostly by my readings of Asimov's Foundation, particularly Foundation and Earth. So, I was bold and began writing it, paying little attention to grammar and syntax. I got suggestions and a rating by YZH, who enjoyed reviewing stories (and was quite good at it).
JWSchmidt got attracted to the story in the second comment: "I am very interested in science fiction that explores the boundary between materialism and spiritualism." As we had worked before in finishing VirileMail I said yes to the collaboration request, started a meta and The search for Kalid was born. My idea for this mixture of science and religion was to try a new approach to both subgenres. It was not to be the usual "mental powers" story (if there is such a thing) neither the usual "space opera". What I wanted to show was how in a place and time where science is much more important than now, in the far future, spirituality is still needed to solve problems. In this case, Kalid held the hope to be able to defeat Set, although when the story developed it changed from this original perspective.
Then, I found a contest in my language which was about a science fiction story. As I had already written one chapter of Kalid back then, I decided that would be the story for the contest. The contest had a constraint: no more than 30 pages. So, basically in few days I wrote the entire La búsqueda de Kalid as a short story and I requested the deletion of The search for Kalid in here because the contest required that the story be unpublished.
The story was rejected because I could not deliver the e-mail on time so I was free to do whatever I wanted with the story (I would lose the copyright to it, in case I participated in the contest). I put the story back at w:c:Ficciones (see history) on July 2nd 2008. Ficciones is a Spanish wikia I had created because Novelas is no longer in that language (it is multilingual instead) and JWSchmidt and I collaborated in there.
It was then when we focused on improving the meta by sharing our vision on the plot. It took several IRC sessions and much content at the meta for me to be able to explain what I had already written as a short story and my "constraints" which basically turned out to be saying "no aliens in this story".
After some months, we moved the content back to Fiction Wikia, on October 4th 2008.
JWSchmidt began writing at chapter 6 of the story, while I was translating or rewriting the first and second chapters. Some users were puzzled for this style of parallel writing. As we discussed much things at IRC, there was no problem in achieving this. Everything we wrote was in agreement (I hope).
My original idea for this story was centered around Kalid and how Leone must search him to save the Empire. I recognize I was very influenced by Asimov's Galactic Empire (not George Lucas Star Wars version of it). The other part of the plot involved Set, "the Evil one". At the beginning of the story Leone tells Sybil Set is wiping entire planets and is planning to do the same on Sakkara. Sybil suggests Leone to go in search for Kalid. The story starts introducing the reader in black and white values. A superb sage who can save the Empire and a murderer who has killed many people for no apparent reason. The reader is given doses of information as the story develops until he/she is able to understand which are the motivations for the actions of the characters.
I will try not to include many spoilers. JWSchmidt added interesting ideas like the use of nanotechnology, green goos, space elevators, robots, and many key things to the main plot. So, the story became complexer while we were discovering where this would lead us. We also assigned ourselves (without noticing) certain characters.
We had times when we had writers' blocks or turned to other stories/projects but we usually found ways to overcome them and go back to the story, by expanding the meta, discussing new possibilities, etc. We got to a pause in the Moon part, which took some months until JWSchmidt came up with a striking idea for that.
Well, that's basically it. During that process, JWSchmidt created several media files, got interested on spirituality and religion (I guess) and we both learned from each other. I guess the trick of collaboration is simple: just try not to take positions like "I won't allow this in the story". Everything can be discussed and modified in order that both authors agree to some extent.
Now that I see the story I noticed none of us could know where it would go or how it would finish. It was happening as we planned it and wrote it. It's the fun of writing fiction, authors go discovering where the story could get. Collaboration is an experience I would recommend trying. The final product is much more than the sum of its parts. --Davinci - talk 18:08, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
When I made a talk page comment about the story in June 2008, I had recently finished working on VirileMail and I was starting to work on other stories such as The Start of Eternity. I had previously started a project called the Science Fiction Challenge for exploring the boundary between science and the supernatural, so I was interested in the way Davichito had started The Search for Kalid. I think my first edit to the story was in June 2008. The story was then deleted from fiction wikia for about 4 months. During that time I started doing some work on the story at ficcion wikia.
In August 2008 we started hearing comments suggesting that the story was like Star Wars. I think there was some truth in this if you imagined that Kalid's mental powers were like the Jedi using The Force. I certainly had no intention of making a story that might be confused with Star Wars. At the start, it was a challenge for me to understand Davichito's plans for the story. In September 2008 I started the timeline to help me think about the story and the fictional universe that The Search for Kalid was a part of. One of my questions about Davichito's plans for the story was if aliens we allowed. I like to include aliens in science fiction stories because I think it makes for more interesting stories. Davichito told me that one rule for the story was that there could not be any aliens in The Search for Kalid.I managed to live up to the letter of that rule, but probably not the spirit.
We made use of IRC chat to discuss the development of the story. Here is a comment I made in September 2008: "I like the idea that the Osirus Order tried to develop telepathy for thousands of years by "magical means" and then switched to technology when dark matter technology became available". Back then the "Haldus Order" was called the "Osirus Order". We also discussed "paranormal experiences". For example, when I broke my foot, my sister (hundreds of miles away) felt that something bad had happened to me. Are such experiences coincidences or telepathy? The story grew to incorporate this question. We also talked about dreams. I once had a dream in which I "saw God", but it was easy for me to believe that my brain had just manufactured an interesting dream. Later, The Search for Kalid includes the idea that people are particularly sensitive to telepathy during dreams, when they are not distracted by sensory input.
At that time I also started to try to make all of the characters interesting rather than stereotypical. In particular, I wanted to show that Set and Ketar had reasons for their actions. I later blogged about the fact that I do not find "Evil" characters interesting unless their motivations are complex. We also incorporated the idea that an attempt had been made to hide the location of Earth. At first this was introduced as a method used by "The Empire" to prevent people in the time when The Search for Kalid takes place from realizing that during human history other people had sometimes lived with freedom. Later we removed from The Search for Kalid all mention of a monolithic Empire. By then, new reasons had been found for keeping the location of Earth secret. So, that original early decision to make Earth a mystery led to important aspects of the plot.
By October 2008, many of the plot elements were being designed and Davichito guessed that The Search for Kalid would grow to novel length. At that time I said, "I think the interface between science and non-science is interesting and can be the basis for a complex story". I've blogged about my addiction to complex fiction and the complexity of The Search for Kalid has led to the creation of a half dozen meta pages that are useful for keeping track of all the story elements. In October 2008 I took a break from The search for Kalid and did some work on Cellular Civilization.
In November 2008 I was working to introduce robots into the story. Along with travel through hyperspace, nanites and telepathy, artificial intelligence is an important part of the future technology in The Search for Kalid. In December 2008 I started editing the early chapters of the story for readability. I find it interesting to see how Davichito, for whom English is not his first language, uses words. I hope the story seems a bit "other worldly" because of some unusual turns of phrase introduced by Davichito. In January 2009 Davichito proclaimed 2009 "the year of Kalid" and we started getting serious about Set and his motivations. I did not know it then, but Set was planning to take over the story. I also started creating more illustrations for the story.
By February 2009 I was writing about Set's visit with Amethyst and Salvaje. I introduced the idea that people in their community did not wear clothing. Davichito objected to the mention of naked humans. This came at the time when the fiction wikia community was discussing mature content. I still find it strange that we are allowed to write about mass murders, decapitations and other violent horrors, but mention of naked humans is not allowed. Also, about that time, we decided to remove the existence of a galactic Empire from the story. I was willing to edit out the many mentions of "Empire" but I wanted to know how to replace the many mentions of "Empire" with an alternative. Development of the story bogged down at that point and we eventually just continued without any galaxy-wide government. I took a break from The Search for Kalid and worked on other projects such as West Wing Wiki and Cellular Civilization.
From May to June 2009 I took a one month wiki break. Starting about the middle of June I made a major effort to complete the story. At that point I made the comment that I tend to write dialog for all characters that sounds the same. I told Davichito, "when you write Leone in manic mode, it is his essential personality". It would be nice to have many collaborators who could provide different characters with different styles of talking. I made an effort to write in a different way for Portia. I had fun with that and I know that this is an aspect of fiction writing that I need to keep working on. In the "final push" to complete the plot I wrote about 50,000 words in a month. There is still room for some modification and additions (see Can a wiki-format story ever really be complete?), but I feel that there is now a complete plot for the story. I am also pleased that there is an obvious way to continue the story with a sequel.
In addition to Internet Relay Chat, I found it useful to start blogging about my fiction writing. I have been making use of the new wikia blogging feature, an external blog, and microblogging at twitter. In addition to the many images I have made for the story, I am also making videos for the story (example) that can be uploaded to YouTube and then inserted into wiki pages. We have also discussed the idea of making an audio version of The Search for Kalid. I'm glad I had a chance to collaborate with Davichito on this story. I never would have dabbled in "Space Opera" without some external motivation. I found that I had fun with it.
- The Search for Kalid is mentioned in an essay about collaborative fiction writing.