So what is the Union? An off-shoot of the Newsies fandom, it's a writing circle dedicated to historical fiction about original characters (both newsies and non-newsies) as well as those from the movie. What sets the Union apart from other writing groups is that it is made up of many different lodging houses and fictional businesses, each with its own website, each based in a specific New York City neighborhood. Together, they basically form a virtual Old New York with a shared timeline. In the Union world, the year is currently 1900, and each day in 2012 corresponds to the same day in 1900; so the day I'm updating this site (Jan. 7, 2012) would be Jan. 7, 1900 in the Unionverse.
To join a lodging house or business, you must first carefully read the Union rules. Then pick a house or business you like, read over its rules, fill out an application with information about your character, and send it to the leader(s) of that site. Important: Check the newsies master list and the employees master list to make sure you pick a different first name, last name, and nickname from any other character in the Union. You should also check the Played By list, maintained by Script, to make sure that no two characters are represented by pictures of the same person. If your character is accepted, please e-mail me their stats and your own contact info so I can update the master list and the member directory. You'll be invited to join the Union's mailing list as well as the group for your specific house or neighborhood, if it has one. After that, all you have to do is start writing.
Stories will be posted on your lodging house's or business's website (or if they involve characters from more than one house or business, they may be posted on more than one site). They can be set in the current Union year or in any previous year, but you must note the year(s) your story takes place so that any major events can be added to the timelines. Please try to maintain a high standard of spelling, grammar, and punctuation...and most of all, do your historical research! Turn-of-the-century New York was an exciting world, especially for streetwise kids like the newsies--full of gangs and fights, gambling and thieving, romance and deceit. And I've done my best to provide plenty of historical resources here on this site.
Any other story requirements--such as where to send your stories, what format they should be in, what ratings system to use, and whether unfinished stories are accepted--are up to the individual website leaders. After your story is posted on your site, I just ask that the leader send me a link for the Union site--along with the title, author(s), year(s) it takes place, the summary, and any rating or warnings. The author can also send in short profiles for any important new characters or places and organizations that appear in the story.
If you want to start your own house, I would suggest thoroughly checking out some of the other houses (and even the houses and businesses of the original Union) to get the general idea of what's expected. Then follow these steps:
1. Pick a neighborhood in New York City where you want your house to be located. Make sure that (a.) This neighborhood was actually
recognized by name in 1900, and (b.) It is at a reasonable distance from all other lodging houses (so that we'll have room to stake out
your newsies' territory). On the lodging-house page, you'll find a list of suggested neighborhoods; if you want to use one that isn't on the
list, just run it by me first.
Note: For the sake of historical accuracy, houses for boys and girls should be separate. However, they can be located in the same
neighborhood. If you are making both a boys' and a girls' house, it's up to you how closely they are affiliated. Maybe they're right next
door to each other, founded by the same person or organization, designed with the same floor plan, and they share the same selling
territory. Or maybe they're at opposite ends of the neighborhood, each with its own history, layout, and territory, and the two leaders don't
even like each other!
2. Once I know your neighborhood, I'll determine the boundaries of the territory where your newsies sell their papers. It can't cross
anyone else's territory! I'll outline its boundaries for you on a map of Old New York (yep, I've already tracked down a few), which I
will send to you to post on your site. Be sure and let me know if you have any requests for what your territory includes.
3. Make a website (using any host you like) that includes all of the following:
-Some information about the history and in-character rules (such as curfew) of your lodging house
-A brief history and description of your neighborhood
-A description of the house's layout and what can be found in each room
-The aforementioned map of your territory
-A link to the Union rules, and a list of any other rules you want your members to follow
-A page that links to the profiles of all current members
-A timeline of important events that happen at your lodging house (to be updated based on stories and Role Plays)
-A page for members' stories to be posted or linked
-An application for new members to fill out
While your lodging house itself will most likely be fictional, please do your research and make sure that everything is as historically
accurate as possible. Beyond that, feel free to throw in any extras you can think of! And if you want to start a business instead of a
lodging house, the steps and requirements are exactly the same, except that you don't need to worry about selling territory, and the
employees can be both male and female. Your business can be pretty much anything that requires multiple employees--a restaurant, a bar,
a brothel, a bookstore, a doctor's office, even a gang!
4. When your site is ready, send the URL to me at FlareHiggins@yahoo.com. (Yes, I'm currently running the Union single-handedly,
though I am very much hoping to recruit some help in future!) I'll let you know if your site is approved; if so, you can get started! If I
don't approve it right away, I'll let you know exactly what the issues are so you can fix them, and I'll be glad to help in any way I can.
Members can start sending in their profiles, to be accepted or rejected at your discretion. Write stories, host chats, maintain your site, and
above all, have fun!
Of course, anyone is free to make an independent, non-Union lodging house that doesn't follow any of these rules! The benefits of Union membership are: your lodging house will be linked to on the Union website; your characters, members, and stories will be listed here; all major events at your house will be added to the Union timeline; you and your members can use any Union characters in your stories; and you will be able to join other houses in occasional Role Play chats.
What are these chats I speak of? Let me tell you.
All chats will be held in character (IC). The RP format will be third-person past-tense. Example:
Racetrack walked into the bunkroom and grinned. "Hey, everyone! Who's up for a game o' poker?"
Any out-of-character (OOC) comments should be put in ((double parentheses)). To avoid confusion, you might want to establish a posting order; you can also decide on different colors or fonts to represent different characters or locations.
The really neat thing about these chats is that other lodging houses in the Union can be invited to participate. Just check the maps to make they're close enough to conveniently visit and interact with each other.
Finally, one thing to remember when it comes to the RP aspect of the Union: it is and always will be considered secondary. The Union is a writing circle, not an RP group. RP can be incredibly fun and creative, but if you are going to make any characters for the Union, please be prepared to write stories, stories, and more stories. That's what it's all about.