I get these about as often I get the common cold, but this one seems worth sharing with you folks, as it concerns y’all.
It may have been done to death, for all I know, so this is in part a request if anyone’s heard of it. Seems like an idea that would have occured to someone: The novel would take the form of a messageboard, with posts, thread, moderators, etc. and the plot would concern someone who has figured out a way to find out who other posters are IRL and to murder some of them.
Technically, it would be a challenge --the form, not the murders–in that I’m not at all sure how I could convey multiple simultaneous threads in a linear form like the novel, and I’d have the other challenge of creating differentiated posters in such numbers that it would seem like a genuine message board (with all different posting styles and on-line personalities) and yet not overwhelm the reader with a myriad of characters.
I’ll put this idea out there for anyone who to use who’s of a mind to–God knows, I’m never going to write this one–or for folks to share their ideas about how to solve some of the above-named problems.
I got the idea, btw, a long time ago, on another, more specialized message board, not the SDMB, on which posters really did make threats (and I’m sure plans) to visit other posters and commit crimes against their persons, so that part of it does seem real. (I don’t visit there anymore, and miss it not at all. In fact, the hobby that the messageboard discussed used to occupy my life, but I got to associate this crazy stuff with the messageboard so that I hardly follow that hobby anymore.)
Maybe you could turn it into an internet phenomenon - don’t publish it at all. Create a message board that only you can post to and let the story unfold there. Require some level of contributions before another post is made. You could have a side forum to monitor interest.
Well if you can make it work you realize that your business model is based on the distribution of advertising. Nowadays if you can create a website that gets lots of traffic you don’t need to sell a damn thing - even a charity could make millions if they get enough hits, whether people contribute or not.
Yeah. I have. So whatever you do, don’t do it. 'Cos it’s already been done. By me. And you’d look super stupid if you just went over my old ground. Just like you’d look super stupid if you asked me for the URL 'cos, uh…well, you should totally know it already! It being such a big phenomenon and all. Seriously? You haven’t heard of this being done, by me? Because it was, you know. Done, that is. By me.
Oh, all right. If you insist, I’ll give you the URL. But not for another few months. Why not? Well, cos…I’ve gotta punish you of course! Y’know, for your ignorance. Oh, cool thing about my project, which I did myself, I set it in the future and timestamped all the posts at around mid 2009. For the realism.
And then, on that side forum, someone would figure out who the other posters were, and start murdering them. And the real murders would mimic the fictional murders. And then some writer somewhere would write about the side forum mimicking the main forum. And then . . .
This is a bad idea. For one thing, anyone who has any familiarity with fanfiction will recognise this tactic, and immediately hate you for holding your story hostage.
Second, if you’re actually asking for money, it seems exceptionally rude to the people who have been contributing to encourage you to continue if you stop part-way through. ETA: Although if you’re not talking about monetary contributions, you can ignore my second point.
Wasn’t Stephen King guilty of this very thing a few years back? Maybe I’m misremembering. He published a story on-line in installments and he either didn’t finish it or he asked for money toward the end. Or he asked for money up front and when people didn’t pay, he stopped writing it.
If you do this story (and it does sound interesting), finish it before you post anything.
Why not have it as a thread in the Game Room. It could start as a murder mystery thread then life starts to imitate the thread. No need to imitate all the threads in all the forums, but you can bring in other threads/forums as required.
Someone has found a way to hack into the board database and trace the IP addresses of the participants. At first a regulars disappears from the thread, people wonder where they have gone. Slowly it emerges they have been killed in what was seemingly an accident with similarities to the way someone dies in the murder mystery thread.
If you can think of a murder mystery, post it in the game room, then you can use that as a basis for your novel, provided you let everyone know that is what you are doing.
Just answering the OP, not going to the side-discussion - it’s pretty much just a standard epistolary style, only using a 21st century communication method - the message board, rather than more traditional comminications, and somewhat more restrictive - more standard updating of the style would be something like combining MB posts, LiveJournal entries, txt messages, YouTube videos and comments, etc.