Today sees the launch of the first Twitter Fiction Festival, a five day “virtual event” that seeks to celebrate Twitter’s unique status as the social network that likes to tell stories. Announced last month by Twitter Media Team’s Andrew Fitzgerald and showcasing different fictional projects playing with the dual potentials of narrative as a form and Twitter as a medium, the Twitter Fiction Festival is also a reminder of the international reach of Twitter as a social network, with projects coming from five continents and in five different languages during the Festival’s run.
Fitzgerald introduced the Festival in a post on the official Twitter blog last month, quoting Michigan State University professor Christine Greenhow as saying that “Tweeting can be thought of as a new literary practice” (She also said, although Fitzgerald didn’t share this second line, that it was “changing the way we experience what we read and what we write,” something that those of us who have wished we could hashtag non-Twitter conversations have discovered to our peril) and pointing out that the network and format has become “a frontier for creative experimentation.” With the Festival, he explained, “we want to invite authors and creative storytellers around the world to push the bounds of whats possible with Twitter content.”
Yesterday, he returned to the blog to share that, since the announcement of the Festival, Twitter has received “a wide array of entries from 20+ countries,” selecting a number of projects from established writers and newcomers to be promoted on a special Fiction Festival landing page between today and the official end of the Festival on Sunday. Almost thirty projects have been selected, ranging from four Parisian writers aiming to collaboratively build sonnets together with the hashtag #TwitRature to author Lauren Beukes writing what she’s describing as #LitMash stories that will create new tales based upon follower suggestions that really shouldn’t belong together, with a couple of murder mysteries thrown in for followers to try and solve somewhere in the middle, as well as writers attempting to tell stories in which their characters narrate the action entirely through tweets they’ve composed themselves. (Go here for a complete list.)
In addition to the officially-selected accounts, Twitter users can join in by Tweeting their own fiction with the hashtag #twitterfiction. “We’ll highlight a number of your stories from the @twitterbooks account,” Fitzgerald added.
Of course, all this writing has to have an audience. “The Twitter Fiction Festival isn’t just for writers— it’s for readers too,” Fitzgerald wrote, addressing that need. “You can enjoy the showcase selections at the #twitterfiction page. There will be stories being told on that page at all hours of the day during the Festival. You can also find and follow accounts telling stories during the festival by searching the #twitterfiction hashtag.”
The Festival runs through Sunday.