Once Upon A Time, Twitter Launched A Storytelling Festival. The End

Starting today, you can submit your short story and, like Jennifer Egan, have it told via Twitter between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2.

"When you begin to think about Twitter as not just the tweet, not just 140 characters alone in a sea of 140-character tweets, but as collections of tweets, that becomes very powerful," said Andrew Fitzgerald, who works with authors and other creatives to tell stories on Twitter.

During a presentation at the New York City Library on Thursday, Fitzgerald discussed Twitter's first ever "Fiction Festival." The completely online event, which will take place from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, will begin accepting submissions today, Oct. 18.

Fitzgerald points to Jennifer Egan's short story "Black Box," which the New Yorker tweeted line by line in 10 nightly installments this summer, as a model for storytelling on Twitter. Part of the objective of the new contest, he said, is to discover additional formats for storytelling on the platform.

"Right now we believe Twitter is a wide-open frontier for creative experimentation," he said. "[We want] to push the outward bounds of what people think about when they think about storytelling on Twitter ... We think it's important to do this experimentation to see how far we can go with the tweet and beyond the tweet."

Aside from Twitter's flexibility and built-in audience, Fitzgerald pointed to the potential to create characters as a boon to creativity on the platform. For instance, Invisible Obama ("a great real-time reaction to a shared cultural moment"), KarlTheFog, and MayorEmanuel.

"On Twitter, we don't require you to use your real identity ... while this is perhaps most famous as being famous for political speech on Twitter, it's also, we believe very important for creative experimentation."

But will the next great American novel really fit into 140-character chunks?

"I like to think of 140 characters as a filter, not a limit," Fitzgerald says. "Almost as if Twitter comes in with a built-in editor that forces you to refine your prose."

Image: Flickr user nutmeg66

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  • Robert K. Blechman

    For doubters about Twitter as a proper the story telling medium, take a look at the first chapter of my completely live-tweeted mystery novel, Executive Severance:


    If you like what you read or are just curious for how it turns out, the complete novel, with fantastic illustrations by David Arshawsky, is available from Amazon:

    or Barnes and Nobles:

    Peace, Out.

  • Chen_Dogg

    As much as I am for new 'creative paths of expression', surely it just doesnt make sense? I mean, If I have to read some form of short story on Twitter, it's going to be lost within the world of words that dribble down the page. If I separate the accounts and put them into a list, then they will still be competing against each other for my logic. Finally, if I just head straight to their feed, would I not just be in a better position reading it all on one page, such a s a wordpress account? 140 character short story competitions, great project for the first day of school. I'm lost.

  • Guest

    "And good writing died crappily ever after. The end."

    Ugh. Methinks Jonathan Franzen won't be judging this one.

    Get ready for 140 Characters of Gray -- and 0 bytes of decent prose.

    (Can't spell hacker without hack, now can we?)