Twitter is not especially well-known for fiction. But maybe that will change. Writers are embracing Twitter for the creative challenge imposed by its 140-character limit, for its real-time functionality, and for its interactivity. Twitterature, or Twiction, or whatever else you’d like to call it, is not just a means of reaching today’s ADD-raddled reader–it’s a new medium entirely, spawning new ways to create and interact with fiction.
So without further ado, here’s a short guide to try innovative and interesting Twitter fiction projects, past and present:
Electric Literature’s highly anticipated “microserialization” of Rick Moody’s novel begins today, and is definitely worth a read. Rather than chopping up a pre-written story into 140-character bursts as many other Twitter novelists tend to do, Moody wrote his novel Some Contemporary Characters expressly for Twitter and embraced the character limit as a source of creative inspiration. Each section of the novel comes every 10 minutes and lasts until December 2nd.
Last Bloomsday, two Ulysses enthusiasts took the novel’s 10th chapter, Wandering Rocks, and retraced all the events of that day on Twitter. Videogame designers Ian Bogost and Ian McCarthy registered 54 of the novel’s characters as Twitter users, who all Tweeted about what they were doing on June 16, 1904 at the correct fictional times. (Old project, since June 16 is long past at this point, but still worth a read. Here’s hoping Bogost and McCarthy will revive the project in some way next Bloomsday.)
What would the cast of characters in The Wizard of Oz be talking about if they were on Twitter? Much like in the Bloomsday Twitter project, Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch, the Wizard and Glinda the Good Witch tweet their experiences and interact with each other in real-time. Unlike the Bloomsday project, all their Tweets are neatly displayed side-by-side on the Twitter of Oz website by creative agency Visual Goodness. (Also old, also still worth checking out nonetheless.)
Twyric is an experimental arts project that finds tweets with the hashtags #haiku, #lyric, #poetry, #poem, etc, and pairs it with a related image from Flickr in real-time (Twyric = Twitter + lyric, get it?). Twyric aims solely to bring the poetry to life and to create a “background for contemplation.”
@EpicTale is a collaborative epic Twitter fiction project wherein Twitterers can add to the story by just hitting “reply” with their addition. From @EpicTale’s bio: “Join together with the rest of Twitter nation to create the most epic tale of all time! OF ALL TIME!”
We’ve already talked about Neil Gaiman’s Twitter story, but it’s still worth a mention here. Neil Gaiman partnered with the BBC to conduct a crowdsourced story on Twitter. Gaiman launched the story by Tweeting the first line, and fans tweeted their additions to the story with the hashtag #bbcawdio. The BBC kindly waded through all the Twitter contributions to somehow piecemeal together a coherent story, which premieres December 1.
Yeah, these are the Twitter book deal guys. Two college students retweet classic and contemporary literature, humorously. Hamlet turns into “WTF IS POLONIUS DOING BEHIND THE CURTAIN???” Oedipus turns into “PARTY IN THEBES!!! Nobody cares I killed that old dude, plus this woman is all over me. Total MILF.” They just finished tweeting “Uncomfortable Glimpses Into Stephenie Meyer’s Masturbatory Fantasies,” having hopped on the Twilight parody train (they’re not the only ones).
A choose-your-own adventure Twitter. @MyOwnAdventure tweets a story, then lets followers decide what happens next. This seems to be inactive, which is a shame. I’m mentioning it here anyway because it seems like Twitter would be the perfect platform for this sort of thing, and I don’t understand why there isn’t more of this.
God, where do I begin? Twitter has given rise to tons of microfiction, from the top-notch @nanoism to @TeenySciFi (science fiction/fantasy microfiction), @MiniFiction (science fiction and mystery microfiction), and @SteamTwisters (steampunk microfiction). Also recommended: @VeryShortStory, @arjunbasu, @InstantFiction, @midnightstories, @thaumatrope, @10_x_10, and the hashtag #vss.
I put together two Twitter list-thingies you can follow if you like: @litdrift/twitter-fiction-projects and @litdrift/microfiction. The lists include all the projects above, plus some other interesting ones not mentioned here.
Feel free to add to this list!