The Twitter Fiction Project That Never Was

Posted: July 16, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Just a short blog post this time, to share an idea I had a year or so ago that I wish I had the commitment and discipline to try. It’s probably been done at least once before, but it still would have been nice to try.

My idea was this – I would recruit 5 or so friends and set up Twitter accounts with them. Each of us would have a character, based in Nottingham and close enough to our own selves that it’d ring true. Those of us with actual proper Twitter accounts would introduce them as friends, and encourage their followers to connect with them. Naturally, all the fictional accounts would follow each other.

Things would proceed in a very normal, natural manner. Lunches would photographed. Movies would be live-blogged. Hashtag games would be played. Over time, a community would be built around them, a phenomenon which I’ve seen happen many times over Twitter.

This would take two years.

Two years of business as normal, with no one realising that they’re interacting with fictional characters. Until, one day, an Inciting Incident happens. Maybe one of the characters is bitten by a shambling stranger. Maybe someone checks a dusty old book out of the library and livetweets the contents. Or someone witnesses  strange lights in the sky, loses time and starts to doubt their sanity.

In short, things would get Weird.

It would spiral into chaos across the fictional accounts – and the proper accounts of those running the fakes ones. That would lend it a bit of credibility. Before you knew it, Twitter would be abuzz with talk of aliens, zombies, demons, who knows what. All because 5 or 6 supposedly real, credible accounts suddenly went consistently haywire.

It would be a small scale 30s War of the Worlds radio broadcast scenario and it would be beautiful.

There are, of course, three problems with it. Firstly, it’s a bit ethically dubious. All the interactions with real people would feel dishonest, deceitful. Is that justified by the art itself? Probably not. Secondly, I’d need to recruit a few friends and wrangle them efficiently. Which leads into the third point : I just don’t have the self-discipline for this.

A project of this scale would require more than just ambition, it would require iron will and strong focus. I’d need to stay consistent in characterisation, over a course of a year or more, interacting with as many people as possible both as myself and as a fictional character. And then to keep track of everything once the madness starts? Whew.

I might still do it. If I can find enough people to join me, and if I can convince myself I have the focus, and if I can be ok with misleading my Twitter followers a bit. Of course, if anyone actually reads this then they’ll instantly know what I’m up to when it starts, but I doubt that many of my Twitter followers read the blog!

So, there you have it. The Great Twitter Deception. If anyone thinks this is a good idea and would like to convince me to do it, I’m open to arguments! In the meantime, it’ll just stay as yet another interesting pipe dream. Along with my potential standup career and podcast.

I’m good at pipe dreams.

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Comments
  1. Oya says:

    If you’re worried about deceit (and the time involved in setting up and building credibility for the fake accounts), might it not be possible to run a similar event using your existing account(s) over a set time? Say Halloween week, you and the group play out the scenario over seven days? You still get the initial confusion over the first couple of days, and having a fixed time lets you wrap it up with people feeling they’ve joined you for a ride, without the risk of feeling duped by a Twitter friend. Like watching an improv street theatre performance. Not quite War of the Worlds, I know, but perhaps more do-able? 🙂

    This reminds me (slightly tangentially) of an interesting thing I saw done by Teju Cole a while back. He wrote a short story, then had his followers tweet it in single snippets from their own accounts, with no explanation. So within each person’s Twitter timeline there would be a single snippet about the story (irrc it involved witnessing a cycling accident) then back to their own tweets as normal. Alone they had no context, it was only as Teju Cole retweeted then in order that the story came together. Was really interesting to watch.

    Liked by 1 person

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