The Literati, Digerati and Twitterati are finally officially coming together – today marks the start of the first Twitter Fiction Festival.
From a historical perspective, this will no doubt be seen as a natural progression of serialised writing. Publishing got a new breath of life from Dickens’ serialisation success and I’ve no doubt that the festival will similarly benefit the literary world in the twenty first century.
Hosted by Twitter, writers from five continents will showcase creative storytelling experiments in five languages.
Obviously, I’ll be watching the official hashtag stream – #twitterfiction – with much interest. I co-authored a book published by Bloomsbury this year, The Twitter Diaries, with my friend Georgie Thompson. We met in real life at a New Year’s Eve bash, she jetted back to London while I remained in NYC and we became fast friends from transatlantically tweeting. A novel seemed the obvious step – and I was rather proud to see it described in Metro today as a “fluffy piece of chick lit” – yes it is! We set out to write exactly that – we all sometimes need some pure escapism in our lives. Our two heroines, @StellaCavill and @TuesdayFields continue to tweet suitably fluffy new material – whether it be about Daniel Craig’s Skyfalling, Maggie Smith’s Downton one-liners or a not so profound tweet yesterday from Stella about teeth whitening.
I’m imagining the #twitterfiction on offer will often be somewhat more highbrow, but the authors will face the same challenges and delights from the 140 character discipline. Having to write in tweets made Georgie and myself sharper. Funnier. We agreed that everything should be properly spelt – we were writing a book after all – and sometimes our characters would go onto a second tweet, but The Twitter Diaries in the end read like a fast paced conversation. It will be fascinating to see how the authors taking part in the festival narrate their stories, to what extent they write “standalone” tweets.
One thing is for sure – the literary and digital worlds will be all-a-twitter for some time to come.