authors · writing

Great stories from the #Twitterfiction festival 2014

The #Twitterfiction Festival 2014 ran from 12th-16th March, and some wonderfully inventive stories came out of just using 140 character tweets. The romance category was represented by best-selling British novelist @KatieFforde, who live-tweeted from the perspective of a young woman on her twentieth blind date. @GraemeSimsion, author of The Rosie Project, tweeted the conversation between Gene (who’s been caught cheating his wife) and his friend Don, who’s giving him advice. Simsion’s followers were invited to join in the debate as the dialogue unfolded.
Another story I enjoyed was by @lizfremantle, author of Queen’s Gambit, who told the tale of the rise and fall of Ann Boleyn from the perspective of her dog (#TudorDog). I also really loved a non-fiction account by @adampopescu about his climb of Mount Everest, which included some stunning photos.
Here’s a selection of tweets from my two favourites of the Festival. First of all, @MeghnaPant retold the whole of The Mahabharata in an amazing 100 tweets. (The Mahabharata is an epic Sanskrit poem, the longest poem ever written, containing more than 1.8 million words.)
helena fairfax, twitterfiction, mahabharata
Here are the first five tweets (summing up approximately 90,000 words :) )
100 Tweet Mahabharat ‏@MeghnaPant Mar 13   Saying a little prayer :) Let’s begin.
100 Tweet Mahabharat ‏@MeghnaPant Mar 13  What is here is found elsewhere. But what is not here is nowhere else. So listen carefully ye, for at the end, you will be someone else.
100 Tweet Mahabharat ‏@MeghnaPant Mar 13  Thus tweet bard and minstrel, a thousand years yonder, of bygone wars, gods, and palaces of unforgotten kings. Let the mighty epic begin.
100 Tweet Mahabharat ‏@MeghnaPant Mar 13  King Shantanu of Hastinapura to beauty Ganga is wed. Why drown our seven children, he asks. In huff, with eighth child Bhishma, she leaves.
(I love the ‘in huff’)
100 Tweet Mahabharat ‏@MeghnaPant Mar 13  Older Bhishma returns and when father loves a fisherwoman, Satyavati, he vows to life celibate, abducts three as wives for his stepbrother.
The rest of the 95 tweets were a superb and massively dramatic summing up of the whole poem. It was brilliant!
Another story I loved was from @laraprescott. She told a story in “real time”, with pictures and videos, of a group of people caught up in a political protest when a bomb goes off in a shopping mall. This retelling really used Twitter to its best advantage, I thought, and was highly imaginative, using separate Twitter accounts which the author had created for each character.
Here’s how it started off:
Lara Prescott ‏@laraprescott Mar 14
Meet @ItsMeCala, @Always_Alia, @FedirIsHere, @OmarIsIn, @IndyNewsNet, and @Hafa1982 #TwitterFiction
Fedir @FedirIsHere Mar 14  See her face in every window, on every fence, bus stop, and lamppost. See her and remember., lara prescott, #twitterfiiction 2014
IndyNewsNetwork@IndyNewsNet Mar 14   Hundreds of posters depicting slain reporter Ana #Boulos have appeared across the city overnight.

And this is how the story escalates.  (You’ll have to read the following tweets backwards, from the bottom of the page up.)
Cala@ItsMeCala Mar 14 .@Always_Alia Dont. Please

Alia@Always_Alia Mar 14  .@ItsMeCala I’m going to try to get to you
Cala@ItsMeCala Mar 14  .@Always_Alia My dad’s coming for me

Alia@Always_Alia Mar 14   .@ItsMeCala We need to get out of here
Omar@OmarIsIn Mar 14  People being carried out of #TCMall main entrance. Some going toward ambulances, more being laid on the sidewalk.

Alia@Always_Alia Mar 14  .@FedirIsHere No, but I’m scared. I need you
Fedir @FedirIsHere Mar 14    .@Always_Alia You’re not injured though, right?
The tweets included photos and videos of the demo and what was going on inside the mall. Some of the other authors at the Festival merely told their story in several tweets, but I thought @laraprescott’s story really made excellent use of Twitter as the medium for the tale, in the way the Festival intended.
Twitter has changed the way people communicate and the way we follow news stories. When I first started my Twitter account (@helenafairfax) I thought it would be all about people tweeting what they had for lunch, but it’s so much more than that! I loved the idea of this festival. The amount of work that went into the author’s pieces, their originality and inventiveness, was really impressive and entertaining.
Do you have a Twitter account? If so, what do you tweet about? And who are your favourite people to follow? Do you think it’s possible to tell a great story in a series of tweets? If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!

6 thoughts on “Great stories from the #Twitterfiction festival 2014

  1. I had no idea this was going on :-( I definitely feel like I missed out on something great. Thanks for posting about it. Hopefully I can easily find the tweets because I’d really love to read some of these in its entirety.

    I’ve had a twitter account since November (not very long at all) and I mainly use it to market my blog and to follow fellow writers and authors. However, each time i sign onto twitter i always feel lost, behind the times or just plain overwhelmed by the sheer volume of tweets to try to keep up with.


    1. Hi Darla, I know exactly what you mean about Twitter. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I find it helps to treat it as just an ongoing conversation that I dip in and out of, like at a party. It’s easy to feel the best gossip is going on in another room – but it’s just impossible to keep up with everything! I also find it’s helpful to search on hashtags. For example #mswl is used by a lot of agents and publishers. It stands for Manuscript Wish List, and is used by agents when they’re looking for a particular genre. Useful for authors to know!

      If you’d like to read more of the stories from the #twitterfiction festival, they’re starting to archive the best ones here:

      Hope you enjoy them.

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Hey, Helena. I’d forgotten Twitter did this. A couple of years ago, I remember one of the writers in my group told us we should all jump in, but hey, I had a twitter account, but really wasn’t doing much there. Being a person of a lot of words, I feel Twitter is very confining, and plays to our shortening attention spans which seems to be escalating.
    I found the Sanskrit tweets fascinating. Wow that’s like writing the the 20 word- tag like we have to do for MIU, but doing it for lots of chapters at once. Very impressive work.
    The other was also interesting, particularly that the author presented so many POVs, which I really like.
    I’ll be sharing. I haven’t noticed anyone else mention about the TwitterFest, but I’ve been buried in the Galleys for next book. Heading back there now. Fun post, Helena.


    1. Thanks, Marsha. There’s something to be said about our shortening attention span, but on the other hand I do think the writers here were very creative within the constraints of Twitter. At least it gets people talking about writing and stories, and that has to be a good thing!
      Good look with those galleys. Looking forward to release!


  3. Hi Helena, I must admit, when I heard of people writing flash Twitter fiction, I thought it had to be contained in one tweet, which seemed really hard but I suppose it’s up to the Twitterati to use Twitter creatively (and legally, of course) in which ever way they can!


    1. I’ve also seen stories contained in one tweet. It’s hard to do, you’re right, but some of the ones I’ve seen are really imaginative. I loved the creativity behind the festival, and the way so many writers and artists got behind the idea. Thanks very much for your comment!


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