Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Perpetual Story

An interesting phenomena on a few BBS systems was called a perpetual or never-ending story. So how does this work? Picture a BBS message system similar to a blog or threaded discussion board today. The only real difference is that only one person can be on and read at a time. The person who is online reads the story, and chooses to whether or not to add to the story. The rules changed based on what BBS you were on. Typically most BBS's had the unwritten rule that you don't kill off any of the characters. Thankfully, the Motel West didn't have that rule.

What is the benefit of a perpetual story? Well if you have a lot of quality contributors it becomes a funny mish-mash of "how do I get the character out of this one?" You are basically put in a position where you write the next chapter of the story...for good or for evil. Every once in a while you would get a person who didn't care much about the story and would undoubtedly end it someting like this...

"And then Winefred pulled out a shotgun and killed everyone. The end."

Or another way some people tried to kill the story was...

"Mr. Coffee pulled out a nucluear device and pushed the button...BOOM! The End."

And the classic way to end a storyline in the 1980's was of course the "Dallas Method":

"...and then Frank Zelba rolled over and woke up. Looking around the room he in amazement he announces, 'It was all a dream!'"

It was a great way many of us armchair authors could chime in using our "mad writing skilz" and show the world that we are the next Heinlein, Herbert, or Adams! In that 20 or so minutes, we controlled the world...and the crazy antics of our friends...as we all ended up in the story in one part or another. As mentioned in earlier posts, our real life exploits frequently became subject fodder for our story board.

The real time / multi-user aspect of the internet makes this type of perpetual story more difficult to execute today. Plus, there would be many more literary assassins who would try to sabotage the story than in years past. Back then, we didn't need to worry about spambots posting about little blue pills, the next hot stock tip, or the latest weight loss craze.

Anyways, heres to those made up gems of old, were you could steal your friends girlfriend, his brothers cherry red convertible, and save the story all in the same post... :) Isn't that right? Frank? S'car? Lioness? Anybody?


Max said...

Ahh, yes. The storyboard. I found a hard copy of the original Obscene Storyboard a few years ago, and spent some time re-creating the story. You can access it, typos included, at http://www.srossi.net/(insert Sir Duke's real name).htm
For obvious reasons, to those of us that helped write it, I'm not giving universal access to the story.

TM.Cavalier said...

Going back and re-reading the story was quite entertaining. Definitely had a strong flavor of John Hughes '80s Film style language sprinkled in. And of course, the completely out of left field interjections from some of the authors are...well...so Motel West.

The Gearheads said...

Do I need to point out, once again, the (not quite) end to end all ends? How one certain TMC ended up driving away just married with Frankie's girl in DBRat's almost new convertible Mustang. All fantastically orchestrated by TMC himself.

That was almost brilliant.

TM.Cavalier said...

Well, based on the posts previous to the above mentioned message with the hot additions of "...at which time the elevator cable snaps and they all fall to their deaths." This as well as the "...drowning in their own fluids..." ending were not that creative. So, being the next person on the board and completely not liking what the previous two assassins had done to the story, I followed up with the almost brilliant: "(if your going to end the story, you've got to put some hedonism or self glory of some sort...how bout this...)"

...and the rest is as they say, history.