By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Nov 17, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Two lifelong friends are taking cues from rock 'n' roll bands in their attempt to get people excited about reading and writing fiction.

Sean Williamson, 25, and his friend Parker Winship, 24, are taking a populist approach to expanding Milwaukee's literary scene, sneaking handbill sized stories into free weekly newspapers, modeling online readings after songs and holding events in bars as they try and get people hyped on literature.

"There is a really great community in this city for local bands to do house shows or local shows. And there is this really great community where if you go to one of those there is going to be a good audience there and there are going to be people who are really psyched about it," said Winship, "We just want to try and approach it that way and get people psyched about fiction in a way that I have never seen."

Williamson and Winship's Web site World Wide Dirt serves as a dumping ground for their myriad projects including brief fiction readings, fiction and poetry writing, clips from Williamson's film projects and work from contributors.

Although they started the Web site three years ago, they've ratcheted up their work on it in the last year, using it as a hub for the community they hope to build through live readings and publications.

"There are a bunch of writers we know all kind of doing our own things that we get excited about and it's just sort of about giving that a shape and a direction to go in to engage an audience more directly," Winship said.

One of the ways they hope to accomplish that is through their live reading series which blend fiction readings, live music, and beer.

"Though people may not be fiction enthusiasts when we get them to come to these shows we put fourth an effort that really generates a genuine interest whether that's your thing or not," Williamson said.

A 9 p.m. Thursday reading at Henry's Tavern, 2523 E. Belleview Pl., done in tandem with the writing group Shift Freedom will focus on travel stories.

Accessibility is a central focus of the group with unorthodox projects like "Pick Your Poison" a choose-your-own-adventure style fiction anthology edited by Winship that he and Williamson read interactively with an audience at a prior reading.

Their online reading series keeps things short and sweet, with nothing stretching too far over the three minute mark.

"I grew up going to like lots of shows and definitely it's the same attitude. We do the Bandcamp thing and it's like keep it under three minutes because that's what a song would be," Williamson said.

And much in the way that bands have turned to offering up their music for free download, Williamson has made his debut novel "House of Will" available for free in electronic form.

Williamson and Winship they have seen the number of people attending their events and reading the blog growing, as they diversify their efforts to reach new readers.

"You can talk about doing things a lot of the time and that's what people don't really care about but if you do anything and put forth the effort people will notice for sure," Williamson said.