Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Twitter Experiment

It seems that nobody really *knows* what Twitter is for exactly. But, there is a strong tradition amongst geeks of looking at a thing and pondering "what can I use this for?" And in the spirit of that geeky tradition I decided upon an experiment using twitter as a vehicle for fiction. Now many people have tried writing #vss tweets (= Very short Story) - I've written a few myself. But I wondered whether it would be possible and indeed practical to write a short drama for several characters - using several different twitter accounts.

So, I've spent a little time thinking of a rudimentary story, and I've set up some accounts for the characters. But there are many questions which arise from the experiment already...

How many characters should I write for? At the moment I have 3 characters, but I may only really use 2.

Is it necessary or desirable to have a "Narrator" for those parts of the story which don't have a "voice"? To begin with I've opted not to use such a device.

How should the drama be "labelled" or grouped together? This is a more technical problem, and I initially tried to use a hashtag, so anyone could choose to tune-in to the drama using the hashtag. But surprisingly, it didn't seem to work very reliably. (And in my first few tweets I kept forgetting to append the hashtag too.) So now, I'm trying a List-based approach instead. I merely created a list to follow the characters and it seems to work very simply, although I'm surprised that the hashtag idea was so unreliable.

One of the other interesting aspects is the prospect of audience participation. It would be possible for anyone to reply to the characters and they could even influence the story. Who knows? We may find out soon.

The drama is not long or convoluted so it won't take long to run through the whole thing. I imagine I will probably write 10-or-so tweets per day for the story and it will probably finish within a week. While I have planned the story, it's not all planned in great detail, and it may be subject to some change.

Here's the link to the List: Twitter Play


  1. I'm pretty excited to see what you've got lined up! Give me some advance warning when you've got things primed and ready to go, I'd love to blog about it.

  2. Thanks Anna.

    You can follow my list at:

    Another interesting restriction with the idea is that there are no 'secrets'. Anything a character tweets is obviously NOT a secret - and all the other characters would be able to know it. So I can't do any "asides". No villains will be able to explain their plot to the audience without the heroes knowing too.

  3. Cool - great idea. Will try and follow!!

  4. Nice idea. There are some precursors to this which you might like. One was an RSC adaptation of Romeo and Juliet called Such Tweet Sorrow. Twitpanto is another.

  5. Thanks Carl.

    I had wondered if anyone else had tried something similar.

    I may take a look to see how they got on.

  6. Judging by the woefully inadequate numbers following my characters, I'd say that the experiment is struggling to get off the ground at the moment. Should I continue with it?