Today was the first time that I heard about an actual event dedicated to storytelling via Twitter. That is not to say it’s the first time that I experienced the phenomenon.
To me, telling a story using Twitter can mean two things:
Firstly, you have your accounts set up to literally tell a series of stories in short sentences. One which immediately occurs to me is the EGOs Issue 0 Tweets. A quick background: EGOs is a recently started comic series published by Image, a company that specialises in more alternative and ‘out-there’ comics. A week or so prior to #2 being released, the writers of EGOs created a series of tweets which essentially told a ‘prequel’ to #1 via a few hundred tweets spaced 2 minutes apart. Reading back now, you will probably not realise fully the tone that experiencing #0 live held. It was definitely humbling, as a writer, to step back from the story and realise that they were essentially creating tiny pieces of cliff-hanging drama in tiny little sentences. There were a few times when 140 characters were just not enough to convey the imagery, and the writers used an image instead, but overall the slow-moving pace was actually incredible to experience.
Another way in which Twitter can be used to tell stories, and one touched upon by the first article that I linked to, would be the parody accounts who pretend to be the characters’ twitter accounts, and tweet accordingly. Many of these don’t last very long, because they were created on a one-joke basis, but many persist to create a kind of everyday, non-linear narrative of an entire individual.
Both of these are very interesting, because they use the tight restrictions of the medium – 140 characters are barely enough to gripe about grandparents, let alone tell an entire story! – to their advantage, and create a whole story using the constructed understanding that most Twitters users have about how tweets work.
And then there’s @horse_ebooks, which turned out to be part of an elaborate art exhibit.