Carrot Ranch Literary Community

Home » #Twitterflash

Category Archives: #Twitterflash

April 2018 #TwitterFlash

By C. Jai Ferry

Social media was built on the idea of being social, but many writers using the various social media tools think this means being social with readers. Charli and her literary community have demonstrated that connecting with other writers can be an important part of our regular online activities. So this week, think about how you are connecting and engaging with other writers through your social media.

Of course, the easiest way to connect with writers is to follow them on Twitter and other social media accounts, but this is also the least engaging connection. Reading other writers’ posts can help you get ideas for what you should (and should not) be sharing on your accounts with your own followers, and you can see the kinds of interactions that other writers are generating on their posts. If you are following a lot of writers but not engaging with them, you might be missing out on some wonderful insights. This month, try to make a point of interacting with at least one new writer by commenting on their posts or posing questions to them.

A second way is to follow others in the literary field, such as journals, publishers, editors, agents, and anyone who promotes writing. These professionals can help you identify trends in the field as well as opportunities for new writing outlets. They can spark ideas for writing and help you stretch your writing chops in new challenges. But again, simply following without engaging can mean you are missing out. Look for ways to engage with these professionals in meaningful ways. Try asking their opinion about a new development in the field.

Finally, you might want to try having public conversations on social media with other writers and professionals in the literary field. It can be daunting, but public conversations are visible to more than just your followers. If the thought of going public terrifies you (as it did me, initially), try finding a fellow writer you trust to create conversations. I have done this with a writing friend; we talk privately on a daily basis and have the same approach to social media. Once we realized this, we took some of our conversations about writing or scenes that weren’t working to Twitter. The conversations generated more engagement than simply posting updates or sharing information online.

As storytellers, we should be able to mold social media to meet our unique needs, but sometimes this means stepping outside of our comfort zone—not the easiest task for introverted writerly types. So this month, try to find ways to focus on creating conversations and stories in public with other writerly types. This approach may be less intimidating when exploring social media.

April Challenge

For this month’s #Twitterflash, your goal is to create connections and conversations by building on someone else’s story. You can do this in different ways:

Options (in no particular order)

  1. Search for #Twitterflash on Twitter and find a story from a previous challenge. You can expand on/continue the story, write it from another character’s perspective, or use it as inspiration to create an entirely new story. Tweet the outcome, tagging the original story’s author.
  2. Join the “Small-town Diner” #Twitterflash started by the Head Buckaroo and fellow Carrot Ranchers (for details, check out the March share post).
  3. Collaborate with fellow writers to create your own multi-author #Twitterflash (a la “Small-town Diner”), then use Twitter Moments to summarize your story in a visual form.

Play around, have fun, and come back at the end of the month and let us know what you learned. Remember to use #Twitterflash when you tweet your stories and then check out what your fellow writers are doing on Twitter.

Ready…set…tweet tweet.

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:

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.

 

March Twitterflash Share

It’s the last day of the March 2018 and time to share your adventures on Twitter, using it as a literary art tool. D. Avery (@daveryshiftn), Faith Colburn (@colburnfa), and Charli Mills (@Charli_Mills) co-wrote a story, using the hashtag #twitterflash. Faith suggested we continue so more people could join the fun.

How did you use Twitter in March? Did you get a chance to try any of the #TwitterFlash challenges? What questions do you have regarding Twitter as a platform?

March Challenge

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)

  1. Write a complete story in dialogue between multiple people using only hashtags for the dialogue. Tweet your story.
  2. 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?
  3. Tweet a #Twitterflash, then use Twitter Moments to summarize your story in a visual form.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

Charli also used Twitter Moments to curate the co-authored #Twitterflash story thus far:

 

You can join the story, but look for which part comes next and be sure to label your addition with the next sequence. Remember, when you go to search the hashtag #TwitterFlash it will display “top tweets.” You’ll want to select “latest”  from the tabs or else you might miss some tweets.

 

Stop by next Friday, April 6 for the next installment of this TwitterFlash project.

C. Jai Ferry (@CJaiFerry) 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.

March 2018: #TwitterFlash

By C. Jai Ferry

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.

March Challenge

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)

  1. Write a complete story in dialogue between multiple people using only hashtags for the dialogue. Tweet your story.
  2. 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?
  3. Tweet a #Twitterflash, then use Twitter Moments to summarize your story in a visual form.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

Ready…set…tweet tweet.

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:

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.

February TwitterFlash Share

February TwitterFlash Share

It’s the last Friday in February (pretend, the Lead Buckaroo fell off her horse), and time to come back to the ranch to share your Twitter teaser plus your favorite tweet comment (made on yours or one you see on someone else’s tweet).

Make sure your blog’s share buttons read “via @[your Twitter handle]” at the end of the pre-populated message to be tweeted.

How dis your assignment go this month (and if you are not going to be on Twitter you don’t need to respond — this last post was intended for bloggers who want to increase their reach on the Twitter platform).

Stop by next Friday, March 2 for the next installment of this TwitterFlash project.

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.

February 2018: #TwitterFlash

By C. Jai Ferry

I’ve spent the last week studying copywriting to create advertisements. To say that my eyes are glazed and my brain is mush is an understatement, but one of the big takeaways for me has been congruence.

When a social media follower (who is hopefully also a reader) sees one of our blog headlines or titles that intrigues them, they will click to read more. If the information at the other end of the link meets (or exceeds) their expectations, the information is congruent with the “teaser” in your headline or title.

But if the link leads to information that is unexpected, the congruency fails and the trust is broken between the reader and the writer. For example, if our fearless leader published a blog post entitled “Unicorns are real and I have proof!” but then the entire post talks about walking along northern beaches and never once mentions unicorns, the reader will feel confused or even let down. If this happens too often, the reader will stop reading the writer’s works.

Congruency between titles and articles (or blurbs and novels) is vital for building a relationship with our readers. It’s also critical for maintaining our lines of communication via social networks. If a reader wants to share content from your website on social media using the sharing buttons on your website, they expect the message produced by those buttons to include your Twitter handle (or other social media connection). Not seeing that information can create incongruence. If you are not taking the time to ensure that your sharing buttons are set up correctly, then they might question whether they should be sharing the information for you.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Include all your public social media accounts on your website/blog. Make the information readily apparent. If a reader has to search for ways to connect with you, you may be losing an important opportunity to ensure the creation of a lifelong supporter. Most website-building programs include simple ways to include social media buttons, and most visitors to your site will be comfortable using these.
  2. Ensure that all sharing buttons for website content are linked to your social media accounts. If someone wants to share one of your blog posts with their friends (i.e., if someone wants to promote your work for free!), you should make sure that the simple sharing buttons on your website include your account information so that the next reader can easily connect to your website and read the content firsthand. This also tags you on your own social media so you know when your content is being shared. When a visitor uses these sharing buttons, they end up retweeting a link to your content followed by “via @[your Twitter handle].” If you do not connect your social media to these sharing buttons, you instead see, for example, “via @wordpress.” For WordPress users, Carrot Ranch-hand Norah Colvin provides a clear overview of how to ensure that your sharing buttons are connected. (Please note that if you use Jetpack, you might need to access the Jetpack settings from your dashboard and then go to the sharing menu to follow the same steps as what Norah outlines.)
  3. If you would like to go one step further, you can embed your Twitter feed into your website so visitors can see what kinds of tweets you are sharing. This can be a powerful way to create new connections. To learn more, read this overview of embedding Twitter on your website.

February Challenge

As we discussed in January, content rules on Twitter, but interactions are important too. Therefore, this month we will once again create meaningful content, but we will also interact with others. So here is your mission (if you choose to accept it):

  • Make sure your website sharing buttons are connected to your Twitter account (as outlined in #1 and #2 above).
  • Write a 200-word story (give or take on the words) incorporating the theme of congruency. Post it on your website/blog.
  • Click on your sharing buttons to verify that you see “via @[your Twitter handle]” at the end of the pre-populated message to be tweeted.
  • Go to Twitter. Tweet a “teaser” line from your story and include a link back to your website/blog. Include the hashtag #Twitterflash.
  • Search for #Twitterflash on Twitter to see what teasers others are sharing.
    • When you find a teaser that entices you to read more, comment on the tweet. Your comment can be a word or two to show your curiosity or even an emoji. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
    • Visit a few #Twitterflash participants’ websites/blogs and, when you read a story you think your Twitter followers might like, click the sharing button to tweet about it. (Not all websites include sharing buttons. If you like a story without sharing buttons, compose your own tweet and tag the writer in your tweet. For example: “I can’t believe that word wrangler @Charli_Mills claims that unicorns exist, but she convinced me!”)
    • Bonus points: If you see teasers that you think your Twitter followers might enjoy, use Twitter’s retweet function. You can add your own comment to your retweet if you want or simply retweet it.
  • On February 23, come back to the Carrot Ranch and share your teaser plus your favorite tweet comment (made on yours or one you see on someone else’s tweet).

Ready? Set… GO!

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 (in no particular order):

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.

Cold #TwitterFlash of January 2018

Cold #Twitterflash with @CJaiFerryJanuary TwitterFlash Share

It’s the last Friday in January, and time to come back to the ranch to share your favorite Twitterflashes. Share up to five of your best stories in the comments below. The prompt was: In a single tweet, write a story about seeing coldness in a new light. Participants used the #TwitterFlash hashtag. This helps you follow along with others, and find your own work.

Go to Twitter and in the “search Twitter” box enter the hashtag and your Twitter handle (example: #Twitterflash @CJaiFerry). This will bring up your “Top” tweets. In the menu where your search shows up, below it reads choices beginning with “Top.” Select “Latest.” This will narrow your search.

In addition, share one Twitter account that you think other Rough Writers would enjoy and/or benefit from. A good author to follow is Kensia Anske @kseniaanske.

Stop by next Friday, February 2 for the next installment of this TwitterFlash project.

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.

January 2018: #TwitterFlash

By C. Jai Ferry

On December 30, the high temperature in my neck of the global woods was a whopping -21 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 Celsius). That didn’t take into account the wind chill, which even today, with our balmy 2 degrees (-16 Celsius), makes my toes curl up in icy protest just thinking about. Needless to say, I am not a fan of winter. Oh sure, a scene of giant, feathery snowflakes drifting down to blanket a cottage with a fire in the hearth and steamed up windows looks all nice and cozy from the outside, but anyone who has had to take a dog out to do his business in sub-zero temperatures knows that blanket of snow brings with it a chill that settles into your bones.

But, if we’re being honest, I must admit that I do like one aspect of snow-filled days: They give me the perfect opportunity to hunker down and write without any distractions. When the roads are covered with white fluff, no one expects me to run errands or meet them for lunch. During this time, I spend hours and hours trapped in my own little worlds without having to come up with an excuse about why I so rarely leave the house. Living an excuse-free life—even if only for a season—translates into my writing process, as the words flow on to the page, taking on a life of their own.

So why am I talking about beautiful but bitterly cold snow when this is our first Twitterflash post of 2018? Because social media is a lot like snow: It can be a cold, unforgiving environment despite all the crowds oohing and ahhing over how a handful of people have used social media to create a cozy and warm home in their neck of the woods. Many people who have much lower socialization needs cringe at the thought of using social media, especially when all the people “in the know” are telling them they must do this or that—activities so far beyond their wheelhouse that they immediately set up all sorts of roadblocks that prevent them from ever using social media.

Let’s get one roadblock out of the immediately. There is no right or wrong way to use social media. Just because one writer got a book deal or sold a million books or was crowned The Greatest Writer Ever by tweeting or posting on Facebook doesn’t mean that you will have the same results if you follow his “9-step foolproof plan to mastering social media.”

A writer friend likes to remind me that the Universe rewards those who speak to it, responding with exactly what you are asking for. I tend to think of social media, and especially Twitter, as a megaphone to the Universe. If you share stories and insights on potentially flaming content, you will likely attract flamers in epic proportion (flame is slang for sharing angry, critical, or disparaging comments online). If your tweets focus on bursts of microfiction related to today’s social injustices, you will probably still attract a flamer or two (they’re ubiquitous, unfortunately), but you will also attract followers interested in those injustices, who will read your tweets and, over time, build a relationship with you. You may never realize the power of your tweets for others, but powerful they will be—whether you’re writing about a fictionalized account of a refugee separated from her family, a story about surprising your child with a puppy, or a scene about herding cattle during a snowstorm.

The idea behind Twitterflash at the Carrot Ranch is to help writers find their voice on Twitter. I’m not going to tell you what to say or how to say it. Rather, I am going to help you explore Twitter’s tools, take them for a test run, then ask you to come back here at the end of the month and share your discoveries. How you use the monthly challenges is completely up to you, but if you want to take some risks, I will be there to support you as best I can.

Now, before we jump into this month’s challenge, I have to offer a few words of wisdom from my own less-than-successful experiences on Twitter. I’m trying not to overwhelm you, so just offering a few tidbits for now. If you have specific questions about anything, drop them in the comments on this post and I will do my best to find an answer for you.

  1. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter’s power is in its public nature. People do not need your approval to follow you on Twitter (unless you set your account to private, which defeats the whole purpose and power). If you want to control who sees what you share, don’t use social media. Seriously. On any social media platform, even you put in place every security gatekeeper that exists, you still cannot stop your friends and followers from showing your content to others. Privacy does not exist in social media. Assume that everyone in the world will read what you post.
  2. Because anybody can (and will) follow you on Twitter, make sure you visit their Twitter page before you automatically follow them back. Many users think it’s an unwritten rule to follow those who follow you. Not so, although you do want to follow a variety of people. Some followers you will immediately recognize as not worth following (e.g., accounts that offer to “sell” you new followers). Others might not be as obvious. When you get a new follower, click on their profile and go explore. Read some of their tweets and look at what they retweet. Some accounts you will need to block (which is done from their profile page) right from the get-go. Trust me. You’ll know what I mean when you see them. Others, you might not see anything negative, but also nothing that makes you want to follow that person. But what if the person’s tweets are ho-hum, but they’re someone you think maybe you should follow (e.g., an acquisitions manager). That’s where lists come into play.
  3. Start using lists as soon as possible. Lists are Twitter’s way of organizing your followers so that you don’t go insane. They don’t explain it that way, but really, that’s what lists are for. According to Twitter: “A list is a curated group of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list.” (Twitter’s information on setting up lists.) Note: List titles are public. So don’t do what I did and create a list entitled “Book scammers & spammers” because the people added to that list will not be happy. But you can create lists for writers, publishing industry, and new friends (which could mean new people you meet online or your secret code for “they seem nice, but let’s keep them at arm’s length for a while…just in case”).

 

Okay, feeling like you might have just been crushed by an avalanche? Before we wade any deeper into the Twitterverse, let’s grab our security blankets and cozy up to the fire in the hearth. It’s time for this month’s Twitterflash challenge.

January Challenge

Content rules on Twitter.

You can have all the sparkly emojis and flashing GIFs you want attached to your tweet, but if the content doesn’t live up to the hype, people will just scroll on by. So for this first challenge, focus on creating content.

Twitter users have a lightning-fast attention span. If the first few words in a post don’t grab users, they scroll to the next tweet in their feeds. Twitter users are also merciless when it comes to keeping their attention. You can have the most amazing first five words in a tweet, but if words six and seven are meh, time to scroll. When you are writing your Twitterflashes this month, try to create as many powerful word/phrase/sentence/idea combinations in your stories as possible. Subtlety can be powerful too, but if you choose this route, create your subtleties in layers rather than textual combinations (e.g., the kind of story that, the more the reader thinks about it, the more meaning they find in it).

The good news is that Twitter users are fairly forgiving when it comes to following grammar rules. Abbreviations are the norm, especially when you’re pushing that character limit. As long as the reader can understand the abbreviation, it’s all good. So don’t shy away from abbreviations and shortcuts; they will not impede your storytelling on Twitter. (Check out this resource for a comprehensive list of shortcuts used on Twitter.)

Don’t change your writing voice. Rather, push your limits.

Think of Twitterflash as an espresso version of your writing. You’ve got a month to practice and tinker. You can try a couple of different approaches with the same story or write several different stories. Engage your Twitter followers in the process. Ask them to recommend a title for your story or to choose between two options in the plot (remember the Choose Your Own Adventure stories?). And if your followers don’t want to engage, that’s okay too. Remember: Even if they don’t engage, someone is always reading your tweets.

Ok, ready to dive in?

January #Twitterflash: In a single tweet (which is 280 characters, or in the ballpark of 50 words), write a story about seeing coldness in a new light. It can be physical cold, psychological cold, emotional cold…wherever you want to go with it. Tweet your story (or stories), including the hashtag #Twitterflash. Tweet them all month long. Tweet the same story more than once. Tweet at different times during the day (or night). Notice anything different in your approach or the reception? If so, make a note of it and share with the group.

On the last Friday in January, we’ll ask you to come back to the ranch to share your favorite Twitterflashes. I’ll also ask you to share one Twitter account that you think other Rough Writers would enjoy and/or benefit from.

Drop your questions/comments/concerns in the comments below, but save your Twitterflashes until January 26, when we’ll gather around the hearth to share here at Carrot Ranch. 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 (in no particular order):

  • Content
  • Hashtags
  • Engagement
  • Retweets
  • Visual Aids
  • Polls
  • Multiple tweets

Have an area you’d like included in this year’s Twitterflash project? Drop me a line.