Telling Stories with Twitter?

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I’ve speculated in this space before about whether Twitter is an appropriate medium with which to tell stories.

Turns out that folks are deploying Twitter storytelling in several ways:

  • The Twitter of Oz … answers the question “What if the main characters in the Wizard of Oz were on Twitter?” Here, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch, the Wizard and Glinda the Good Witch tweet their experiences in real time, 140 characters at a time.
  • Twitterers have also retold other familiar stories in 140-character bursts. Last fall, some 600 participants retold War of the Worlds with 1,500 tweets. As Xiaochang Li reported, these tweets captured “what they envisioned to be happening around them as various events within the original narrative unfolded, so that as the tripods touched down, people were encouraged to generate local narratives and fill in gaps in the story” (more here). She also noted that “Public Domain” tweeted Moby Dick, in this case a literal rendering of the classic.
  • Adrift calls itself “serialized micro-fiction,” and presents “the story of a father trying to find his daughter.”
  • Josh Lewis reports on an apparently now complete collaborative novel, 140novel, composed of Twitter tweets, as well as twitterfiction in which each tweet is (or was — no tweets in more than a year) a self-contained work of fiction.
  • Mr. Harder offers an attempt to collaboratively tweet a story (I get the impression that Adrift involves only one author.) Those who wish to collaborate on the story are instructed to “just reply at @storytweeting via Twitter, and their part of the story is added!” At the time I put together this post, the story had 27 writers and 32 entries.
  • “Ben” is behind a collaborative story writing project using Twitter, The Story So Far. You just tweet @storysofar to suggest the next line, and you can vote on whose line you like best by tweeting @storysofarvote and mentioning the user you want to win. At the end of the day the votes are tallied and the winning line is retweeted.

7 Comments

Hi Katharine! I wanted to let you know about another online story experiment going on called MysticQuest. It is a serial fantasy story that followers can participate in creating by weekly challenges. One week users helped create a character, another week the direction of the story was decided by a poll, and this week we have a challenge to see how many people will tweet a certain message — if enough do then a character in the story world will have enough ability to overcome an obstacle. It is an attempt to create a cross between a twitter rpg and a serial fantasy story.

http://twitter.com/mysticquest http://mysticquest.ning.com/

I hope you check it out!

I think Twitter is definitely a challenging, and sometimes interesting, medium for storytelling. I liked the War of the Worlds idea and I’m sure there are other stories that could benefit from a collaborative effort.

I recently started following @myownadventure, which isn’t necessarily a set narrative, but is an interesting interactive use of twitter, inspired by the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” children’s books.

Thanks so much, Andrew and Peter. I should have known that the Twitter story experiments I mentioned were just the tip of the iceberg. Both the ones you gents mention look really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Hi,

I’ve also put together a collaborative story writing project using Twitter - http://cwd.co.uk/storysofar. You just tweet @storysofar to suggest the next line, and you can vote on who’s line you like best by tweeting @storysofarvote and mentioning the user you want to win. At the end of the day the votes are tallied and the winning line is retweeted.

Hope you like it, any suggestions for alteration please leave through the feedback uservoice forum.

Thank you. I will add your project to this entry.

Hello, My friend John decided to jump out of a plane and tweet what he was thinking as he fell to the earth.

www.twitter.com/tweettodeath

Thanks so much for sharing that. I post these “Twitter storytelling” examples periodically and will be sure to add that one next time.

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