Books and Publishing in the Digital Age
Over the past few years Twitter has become a popular platform for creating and celebrating fiction. Stories have been told in less than 140 characters; fictional characters have come to life and tweeted from personal accounts; and entire stories have unfolded through a series of successive tweets. In 2009 a reimagining of Pride & Prejudice called “Pride and Twitterverse” pulled the classic literary characters into the digital age and showed the interactions they had on Twitter.
The first Twitter Fiction Festival was held on the week of November 28, 2012 and took place completely online. For five days participants from all over the world tweeted their submissions by using the hashtag #twitterfiction at the end of each entry. The showcase selections were featured on the #twitterfiction page.
In May 2012 The New Yorker released Jennifer Egan’s short story “Black Box” through a series of tweets sent out over ten nights. The experiment was met with mixed reviews as some thought that the long-form fiction told in increments of 140 characters over several nights was not able to implement some of the best features that Twitter offers.
A more successful attempt by Elliott Holt was selected for the Twitter Fiction Showcase. Holt’s crime mystery unfolded on Twitter and made full use of the platform through the interactions of three guests who told their sides of the story, included clever hashtags, and provided a knowing awareness that the story was being told on the popular social media networking site. At the end of the story engaged readers were asked to tweet whether they thought the murder was a #homicide, #suicide, or an #accident.
Earlier this week, acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh began tweeting out a novella called Glue from his unofficial Twitter account @Bitchuation. The story is told in second person and many of the tweets contain photos of the places described by the narrator.
Prior to the official Twitter Fiction Festival, The Guardian asked well-known writers to create stories using 140 characters or less. The Guardian continues to feature established writers’ entries in their weekly Twitter Fiction challenge.
Twitter’s platform of a global audience and real-time functionality adds a new dimension to storytelling. The challenge of creating stories through 140 characters or less has inspired impressive expressions of narrative. Twitter unites readers, writers, and fans together on one platform that uses words and characters to tell their stories.