Henry David Thoreau once opined, “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” And mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal once said, “I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” And although neither of these quotable gents had even the slightest inkling of social media (or the internet, for that matter) whilst uttering these aphorisms – we have a feeling they would have supported the sentiment behind today’s character-limited communication methods. This Wednesday, the short tales to which they refer grow even shorter when the Twitter Fiction Festival delivers up five days packed with prose — all in 140 characters or less.
There’s a lot that people love to share on a service like Twitter. Ellen’s multi-celeb selfie at the Oscars got so many retweets that it brought down the site’s server and a broke a record for the most retweeted photo of all time. Throw that in with a plethora of food-related remarks, heavily hashtagged rants and breaking news bursts of info, it can all be a lot to sort through. #TwitterFiction aims to prospect on new territory in Social Media Land, turning what could be trivial tweets into fun-to-peruse content.
The first fest (back in 2012) happened entirely on the web over the course of five days. A panel of judges selected an official group of participants, and each one virtually joined in on the fun, tweeting their own stories and crafting new ones with other Twitter users. This year, they’ll take things both on and offline from March 12th through the 16th.
The festival is the result of the Association of American Publishers and Penguin Random House joining up with the social media mogul. The little birdies behind some of the week’s Twitter-based tales will gather to kick off the fest at SubCulture on Bleecker Street. Authors R. L. Stine, Dave Hill, James Braly, Diana Spechler, Matthew Robert Gehring and James & Emily Carmichael will give on-stage performances, along with a few other surprises.
Throughout the rest of the week, 24 popular authors, including award-winners and NYT best-sellers, will join 25 contest winners to post their shortly woven yarns straight to Twitter. The full schedule includes playful literary schemes like “the erotic inner life of Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey, revealed by @anthonyfmarra” and “an unopened, aged letter is discovered — Twitter users are invited to help @andreacremer write the letter and uncover the past.”
According to the event’s organizers, “During the festival, anyone is invited to jump in and tell stories with the hashtag #TwitterFiction.” Creating a truly svelte story isn’t easy, so the folks at Twitter have built a random generator random generator to help — and to create some hilarious word combinations. We were given this gem: “There are two things I need: a tear-soaked pillow and the tooth of the skinniest Olsen Twin.” (Ah, poetry, ain’t it? Plus, it’s a lean, mean 92 characters.)
They also suggest pitching in with anything from parody accounts of famous people to collaborative tweets (and retweets) spawned by crowd sourcing, images, Vine videos, narratives, poetry or — for the most ambitious among us — tweeting through multiple Twitter handles as different personalities or characters.
To attend the live event on Wednesday, March 12 at SubCulture (45 Bleecker Street), grab a ticket here for $15 per person. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. sharp.
Admission includes one drink ticket and access to the after party. The organizers recommend arriving early to snag a seat. Folks who arrive later will have access to standing room. For anyone who can’t make it in, they’ll also stream the event live online.