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The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Five examples from storytellers who have embraced twitter as either a standalone story platform or as part of a wider story world.

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As a creative practitioner, you're probably familiar with twitter as a key social media platform for marketing your projects to today’s internet-savvy audiences.

But did you know it’s also a great storytelling tool? 

Fiona Milburn, from Transmedia NZ, gives us five examples from storytellers who have embraced twitter as either a standalone story platform or as part of a wider story world.

1.  Crimer Show by Astonishing Sod

An episodic crime story which unfolds “Mondoy – Frodoy” (or Tuesday through Saturday for those of us Down Under) at roughly a tweet an hour.  When the tweets constitute a full episode, they’re collated onto the Crimer Show website.  Crimer Show is definitely quirky!  And, not just because of its idiosyncratic tweeting style. 

The cast of characters includes good guys: Detetcive, Detetcivewife, Chief, Polisemans; and bad guys: Crimer, Brainius, Badguy; plus a Hotbabe.  Crimer Show is best described as Noir Fiction meets Saturday Morning Cartoons, and it has the plots to match.  In the words of CRIMER:  “Crimeing am liek Ches […] an Im juste moveing the pwns aronde the bord.”  Launched March 28th, @CrimerShow already has over 18,000 followers.  You can start following with “eppasod” one here.

2.  Titanic Voyage by The History Press

“Experience Titanic's epic journey with minute-by-minute tweets as if from on board the ship itself.”  Started in March, 2012 for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, @TitanicRealTime charts the ship’s ill-fated journey from initial inspections; a near collision with the steamship New York on leaving Southampton; through first reports of icebergs; and her final sinking

The sinking of the Titanic is probably the most famous of all maritime disasters.  This “unsinkable” ship took 1,517 passengers and crew with her to a watery grave amidst stories of heroism, hubris and self-sacrifice.  Perhaps this is why her story still fascinates us and @TitanicRealTime has over 72,000 followers.  This twitter “event” will repeat from March 10th, 2014.

3.  @BettyDraper by Helen Klein Ross

Based on January Jones’s character from Mad Men, the award-winning US drama set in a New York ad agency of the 1960s.  With over 34,500 followers, it is the most well known of Mad Men’s fan role-playing accounts.  Twitter users are allowed to create parody, commentary, or fan accounts (including role-playing) as long as they follow twitter policy

Fan role-playing accounts often develop into interactive communities which extend the narrative and show experience for their twitter followers.  @BettyDraper’s “rolodex” of 91 Mad Men fan accounts, including several Don Drapers, a fainting couch and a photocopier, indicates just how popular fan role-playing sites are.

4.  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries by Hank Green and Bernie Su

An “online modernized adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It’s also a native transmedia project with Lizzie Bennet’s video diaries being supported by numerous other social media streams. 

Given the storytelling restrictions of the vlog format, the show cleverly uses the twitter accounts of its characters to enhance story points and provide alternative points of view.  I particularly liked the way twitter was used to introduce us to Bing Lee, his sister Caroline, and William Darcy whilst building suspense by withholding their personal images until revealed in the main storyline.  Here’s how we first meet Bing, Caroline & Darcy on twitter, note the cryptic profile pictures. 

Twitter was also used to great effect in the Lydia Bennet storyline.  I never had much time for this character in Jane Austen’s original work, but Lydia Bennet is definitely one of my favourites in this adaptation.  It’s also interesting to note that, at the time of writing, the main LBD character twitter feeds have follower numbers to rival the official @TheLBDofficial account (30,173):  @TheLizzieBennet (45,245) and @wmdarcy (31,145).  I guess story wins out!  Lizzie Bennet posted her last vlog on March 28th but you can still catch the story, from the beginning:  here (website) … here (YouTube) … or here (Tumblr).

5.  Readers Choice!

Actually, I know I said I’d give five examples of great twitter storytelling but, as there are a good many stories out there deserved of sharing, I thought I’d leave this final place on the list for you to fill.  Please share examples from your favourite twitter storytellers in the comments below.

Written by

Fiona Milburn

2 May 2013

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