Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The Susen Saga

a novel novel
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The idea, which is not specific to Susen, is a collaboratively-written story that is developed by serial posts to a web site. Of course that's been done before. What I think might be new and fun would be to start it with a premise involving a real person or people and/or real events, and each new day insist that the developing story line somehow be brought back into touch with some facet of reality in the day's news, especially if the day's news pertains somehow to the original real people or events, or to people or events introduced in the fictional collaborative contributions of previous days. Plot twists that didn't bring the story line back to include some element of the day's reality would be deleted until someone posted a conforming entry.

As always, the fun would be in keeping the story entertaining, but the discipline of having to come back to an ever-changing, unpredictable, and uncontrollable reality would provide new challenges and opportunities for intellectual stimulation that so often seem to fade away after conventional serial collaborative writing efforts get a few days old. Rather than thinking "do I really want to go back to that old story that started with a dominoes game and has now gotten utterly ridiculous?", a collaborator might read the headline, "O.J. finds 'the real killer'," and think, "Oooh! I could use that in the story."

You'd have to start with someone or something that the collaborators don't know on a personal, day-to-day basis, or else it would just become a parody of a diary. Someone like a celebrity, or a halfbaker.

I came up with this when I was reminded that Susen has been "missing" from the halfbakery for several months now, and that she "disappeared" in the midst of a discussion about a missing 12 year old daughter of a friend of her friend. I know Susen's disappearance has been explained (sort of) but I imagined a scenario in which the story might run like this:

Jan. 25, 2002 entry:
# Susen had just finished getting the horses settled for the night when she heard a noise in the corner of the stall... # (narrative...narrative...describing Susen's capture by unknown kidnappers who happened to be the same group who kidnapped the girl...resume narrative) # ..."Gosh," Susen thought to herself, "I wonder if Captain Mayonaise can get me out of this jam!" #

Jan. 29, 2002 entry:
# "I told her," said Rolf, the kidnapper, "that Susen put her affairs in order and left with a couple of friends, and we haven't heard from her since. I hope she buys that. I mean, what kind of a bakery is that, where people would be so concerned about one another that they'd read the notice I put up and actually call here to find out what's up?"

"Look," said the dark, swarthy one, "I just hope for your sake you haven't bungled this whole caper again by posting that stupid 'RIP' thing on the web site. Now get out of my sight. I'm busy working on the next step in our evil plan to corner the market in Jack Russel Terriers." #

June 10, 2002 entry:
# "They've got Padilla!" The swarthy one spat out a curse in Arabic. "We may be exposed. If he talks, they may find out about how we've been funding the dirty bomb project with our stud fees. We've got to get out of this joint and lay low for a while. Get the girls in the truck." #

June 12, 2002 entry:
# It had been a long night in the tool shed after having made her daring escape from her captors, but Susen was still alive, and that's what was important. Now it was time to make contact with the outside world. But she couldn't simply call for help for fear of endangering the people (and the dogs!) still held by the Terrierists. She couldn't even reveal her true identity for the sake of those still held captive. "I have it!" she thought. An hour later she was at the keyboard of the computer in the house next to the tool shed. It hadn't been too hard to jimmy the lock and discover that nobody was home. She typed, "www.halfbakery.com." "Hey! This person is already a halfbaker! What're the odds of that? The halfbakery must have become a global phenomenon while I was out of touch. I'll just use his identity and post an idea that reminds people of the idea I posted that got me into this mess in the first place. Halfbakers are smart; they'll eventually realize it's me and organize a party of Guerilla Halfbakers to crack open the Terrierist ring!" #

...

beauxeault, Jun 12 2002

[link]






       hmmm...great title and interesting idea. The jump from Jan.29 to Jun.10 confused me at first....but I see what you're getting at. By tying in the *real* news, the story could take more turns and twists than normal....after all, facts are often stranger than fiction....   

       Is this to be a 1/2 B collaborative effort or a suggestion as to how collaborative writers should work in the future?   

       (As for the real Susen, I still think she ran off with PeterSealy <snicker> or that UnaBubba smuggled her down under....)
runforrestrun, Jun 12 2002
  

       Hmmmm..........one annotation and three pastries, thats a little out of pattern for the early stages of an idea.
Does anyone ever really leave the halfbakery?
Is Susen still with us?
Is she truly alone and in the dark?
Or is she masquerading as her own kidnapper? oh hell, hang on, yes that is possible.
I put it to you that it not only was it Susen in the conservatory with Professor Plum, it still is!
What have you got to say to that mr bauxite?
IvanIdea, Jun 12 2002
  

       Terrierists!...Given Susen's reputation in the horse breeding world and alleged connections to "War Emblem" and a near-Triple Crown, who would have expected her to be embroiled in a dastardly plot with dog enthusiasts?
jurist, Jun 13 2002
  

       Will the real Susen please stand up
please stand up
please stand up
IvanIdea, Jun 13 2002
  

       Beauxeault, did we get that red hair thing you have working completely wrong?
jurist, Jun 13 2002
  

       All life follows patterns. On re-reading my first annotation I find that I can correlate its meaningfulness and clarity very precisely with the amount of brandy missing from the bottle. Sorry [Beauxeault] I was not meaning to accuse you of being Susen, that would be nonsense.
My case is that when I came across this there were three pastries and one annotation which struck me as odd and not the usual pattern.
The significance to my mind is that of the two people who pastried the idea but didn't annotate it is entirely possible that one of them is the equestrian formaerly known as Susen
If those two persons would make themselves known we could settle it.
IvanIdea, Jun 13 2002
  

       jurist, check my account creation date and compare it to Susen's. I was here long before she was, and she defined herself to a degree that's implausible if she were my creation.
beauxeault, Jun 13 2002
  

       Ivan, perhaps what you meant to say was:   

       # Having left a window unlocked before she left senatorjam's house, Susen had little trouble getting back in to check the progress of her scheme. "Look at that!" she nearly exclaimed out loud, "beauxeault has figured it out!" I wish I could annotate his idea and tell him to unleash the Guerilla Halfbakers. But it's too risky. I'll just vote for it and see if my vote helps get things going."   

       Later that day, Susen would have been thrilled to discover that IvanIdea did in fact begin to suspect a strange pattern that might confirm Susen's hand in the mix. But by then, Susen was already headed toward yet another surprising adventure... #
beauxeault, Jun 13 2002
  

       That just about covers it.
IvanIdea, Jun 13 2002
  

       Right, nine croissants, one fishbone but doubtless from the auto-boner, and only three annotators, one of whom is me but I havn't voted yet. Hmmmm...a strange pattern which points to only one thing, I am having the piss taken. And surely I deserve it.
IvanIdea, Jun 13 2002
  

       no, we all have warm feelings for susen - just wish she would come back. nothing further to be said - just leave it!
po, Jun 13 2002
  

       # The journey had been a defining moment in her life, but now she could relax. She was safe, the hostages were rescued, the terriers (all but one) had good homes, and the evildoers had been declared illegal combatants. Things were so peaceful and orderly that it was almost hard to realize how recently life had consisted of night-time forays with the Guerilla Halfbakers, EggZooka training by day, and a subsistence diet of croissants and fishbones smuggled into the jungle hideout by the Guerrillas. Not to forget the multiple breakings-and-enterings required to periodically add mysterious votes for the "Susen Saga" idea, as a way to keep the halfbakery support base informed that the game was still on. Especially that harrowing night when, still tied together from their latest escape, the four of them broke into blissmiss' house to post a croissant, and were nearly smashed by some giant flyswatter device.   

       The whole saga would make an interesting chapter in the book she'd someday write about her life, but for now, Susen was content to merely sit back on the porch and watch the waves caress the sun-drenched beach as a gentle breeze sighed through the palms. She reached for her drink, and was about to lift her pet spider up to her lap when she noticed a tall, dark, and handsome stranger staring at her from the beach...#
beauxeault, Aug 05 2002
  

       # The tall, dark, and handsome figure slowly sauntered over to her beach house gate, making certain he flexed every fiber of his body along the way. 'That's a little showy,' thought Susen. Suddenly, she had a horrid realization. It could only be one person: DreamPartner Man, and he'd spotted her. Thinking quickly, Susen grabbed her gardening spade and started digging holes in the lawn, furiously.   

       Somewhere, in the distance, a road cone smelled the scent of freshly upturned earth.   

       "I've got a bigger shovel in the shed. Would you be a dear and go fetch it?"   

       "I'd love to, ma'am." Moments later, the tall, dark, handsome figure returned, and the plan paid off. DreamPartner Man offered to dig for her.   

       "Well that's mighty kind of you."   

       The roadcones were now starting to pass the word along; there was a fresh, new hole to investigate at the beach house. But alas, the gate was still locked. "Not quite yet, fellas, wait 'til more arrive," Susen kept repeating to the small flock of now earthen-intoxicated cones.   

       "Okay, go get him!" Susen sprung the gate latch, and was nearly ran over by a thousand flocking road cones trampling to the hole like a herd of British soccer fans. Waist deep in the hole, DreamPartner Man looked up from what was to become his grave just in time to see a blur of dust and safety orange bearing down on his position. Soon, the entire lawn had become a roadcone mosh pit, and slowly, the tall, dark, and handsome stranger suffocated to death under the crushing weight of several hundred partying road safety markers.
RayfordSteele, Aug 05 2002
  

       Quickest draw in the state, ma'am.
RayfordSteele, Aug 05 2002
  

       Hi beaux, it seems your idea recently caught some new life. I wonder why? <g>   

       If only my life really *were* this interesting, what with all the padded walls in my room and such.....<insert rim shot here>   

       so, um...no tall, dark, handsome, strangers on the beach...just a bunch of overweight tourists in ugly shirts who are willing to pay cash for their fortunes, temporary tattoos, and little seashells with seagulls and coconut trees painted on them by yours truly....
Susen, Aug 05 2002
  

       # Overhearing the ugly-shirted tourists, Susen dropped her brush as the sudden realization hit her. They weren’t interested in her dainty little seashells. The big-butted, big spenders didn’t care about her painting or listening to the sea. They discussed how much volume the shells had – to fill them with explosives!   

       It wasn’t the terrierists the world should fear; it was the tourrorists! They were plotting to blow up the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the symbol of her homeland – the dusty, red-necked, bible-belted Midwest.   

       She ran towards the tall, dark, naked figure on the beach. His silky skin and long mane shone in the moonlight. Forrest was his name and she put an arm around his powerful neck, swung herself onto his broad back and spanked his muscular rear. She would ride to St. Louis and warn them. As she rode off through the surf, she glanced at handsome young men dancing at a beach party and understood why she could never date. She wasn’t fascinated by the prince on the white charger. It was the steed itself, she counted on and adored.
FarmerJohn, Aug 05 2002
  

       Aha, you fell for it, and you loved every bit of it.
FarmerJohn, Aug 05 2002
  

       <muttering to self> so now I'm a freakin' horse???!!! </muttering to self>
runforrestrun, Aug 05 2002
  

       Susen counts fifteen stallions between piers and spies two babies with sand heavy diapers. Forrest's legs are pushing forward, the muscles accentuated by the tan. As they glide through the shadows playing under the spaced cedar above, she catches sight of a ragged Annie, of sorts, popping a letter into a sand with bottle and cork. The softness of the gesture transforms into sloth somewhere between the eye and the mind, and Susen whispers in Forrest's ear, "I've an idea horsey. We'll gut these tour'ies pock'ies with bottled sand and their obsession with nostalgia."
rubyissues, Aug 06 2002
  

       # As Susan steered her half-man, half-horse, half-baked centaur on the Ameri-bahn between the creeping, dimpled cars that smelled of grilled clay pigeons, she leaned forward and shouted, “Run Forrest, run,” above the catcalls of God booming from the car radios, ”Hey babe, let’s do some immaculate conception!” Only some dense anti-matter would be unfair to God, she thought as her beast slipped on an emergency clip-on banana peel, lost its last horseshoe Velcro strip and had to continue en pointe.   

       Not wasting time while stopped at a red light, she strapped on her hair-styling pillow, checked her glow map (uh oh, a little perspiration under the arms) and ordered un-milk, bigger-holed donuts, flickered mice, petrolled skeet and a stamp-flavored phone cone on her anodized, speech recognition, shopping list, tooth wristwatch that blew back, “OK, pie ingredients sent to your tart fax.”   

       Nearing the sinking safety arch, Susen saw that it was almost too late. People were going ballistic in parachutes from wall warts, others were inflating rubbers for evacuation, and on the ground, induced by near death, squares of survivors were breaking out in conga dancing, calling up www.Help I’ve been framed and I’ve got a hang-up, and someone played a semi-permanent Tattoo.   

       With her remaining 24 carat joules of energy, she cut past a slapping handtree with her ISPY chain-brella, flipped to the right page in “How to defeet tourrorism”, filled her frisyo from the bottles of Belizean beach sand and stood up on the stud’s pounding back on her tip toes. At the last nanosecond she launched the flying extinguisher…but it fell short…
FarmerJohn, Aug 06 2002
  

       wow
Susen, Aug 06 2002
  

       Just a reminder here that today is a new day, and the point of the idea is that each new day that sees additions to the story requires that the story veer back to touch on some element of reality* that has recently transpired. It need not conform to everything in the real world, just one newly-disclosed facet.   

       Though if we accept newly-posted hb ideas as "reality," then FarmerJohn's latest entry conforms...over and over and over.   

       * (Purely imagined realities excluded)
beauxeault, Aug 06 2002
  
      
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