Technology has taught us that change is inevitable. Whether you think of technology as electric typewriters and mimeographs or smart homes and driverless cars, every piece of technology has changed the world in both expected and unexpected ways. Often the most fascinating shifts have occurred when users utilize the technology in new ways. Who would have ever expected the Daguerreotype to have spawned an entire culture of using our phones to take photos of our food and post them for our social networks to ooh and aah (not to mention entire films being produced using iPhones!)?
Computer technology, including software and apps like Twitter, can have far-reaching effects, especially when users begin to experiment with them. One example is using plagiarism software to unveil a new source for Shakespeare’s plays. The scholars who discovered this are not suggesting Shakespeare plagiarized, but decided to adapt a new technology in a way that allowed them to compare one author’s works to other works published at the time.
Social media is no different. Although created as a way to connect users from around the world, it is constantly evolving (anyone who uses Facebook knows that its changes are legendary—love them or hate them). But the owners of social media aren’t the only one driving the shifts in how these tools are used. Users can decide how and why to use social media as well. Police use social media to track suspects, fire departments use Twitter to communicate with affected communities when phone lines are jammed, and travelers can use their vacation photos to help stop human trafficking.
Storytellers have many, many reasons to use social media, but first, we have to get out of the mindset that the various forms of social media are only for marketing or connecting with fans. Yes, social media tools do both of these, but they can also be used to do so much more. I am sure that more than a few of us have used a screwdriver to do something other than turn screws. And don’t get me started on balloons, which were not created for holding down a makeshift fort by filling them with water on a hot summer day! As storytellers, we are uniquely qualified to find new and unexpected uses for these tools.
For this month’s #Twitterflash, you have options from which to choose. Choose one, choose them all, or choose any that tickle your fancy, but play around, have fun, and come back at the end of the month and let us know what you learned.
Options (in no particular order)
- Write a complete story in dialogue between multiple people using only hashtags for the dialogue. Tweet your story.
- Let one of your characters take over your Twitter account for several days. What would he/she tweet about? How would he/she “speak” in tweets? Reply to others?
- Tweet a #Twitterflash, then use Twitter Moments to summarize your story in a visual form.
- Want to try a dyad (or triad)? Find a writing partner on Twitter and write a “folding story” (each person adds to the story one sentence at a time).
- Choose five photos from morguefile.com and attach each one to a tweet that tells your story. Bonus points for creating a collection on Twitter.
Remember to use #Twitterflash when you tweet your stories.
Don’t let the options restrict you. If you see something else you’d like to try or have an idea about using Twitter, give it a whirl. Just remember to come back here at the end of the month and share what you learned with the community (and get a few new ideas for yourself). And don’t forget to explore what other Carrot Ranchers are doing by searching for the #Twitterflash hashtag.
C. Jai Ferry is a flash fiction freak, human trafficking warrior, and Master Ninja at novellaninjas.com, an online space promoting published short stories and novellas to readers. Her titles include Unraveled, a collection of microfiction and flash fiction stories, and “Skeleton Dance,” 2014 winner of the Vermillion Literary Project Short Story Contest, which was turned into a film and included in the 2016 Nebraska Noir collection. She tweets from @CJaiFerry
Carrot Ranch’s Twitterflash 2018 is a monthly challenge focused on expanding writers’ use of Twitter as a tool for writing. Throughout the year, writers will experiment with storytelling via tweets using the following areas of focus:
- Visual Aids
- Multiple tweets
Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.