This work is an example of 'publishing' a story via the Twitter social network. It was created during the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival. The festival invites authors to create fictional tales using Twitter. Internet users are also invited to contribute their ideas via Twitter to the festival.
"Hard to put down. Not recommended reading after dark." -- Stephen King
"Makes the supernatural seem possible" -- Publishers Weekly
THE HUNGER: NPR 100 Favorite Horror Stories
THE HUNGER: Nominated for the Stoker and Locus awards
Author of THE DEEP, a reimagining of the sinking of the Titanic, and THE HUNGER, a reimagining of the Donner Party's tragic journey (Putnam); THE TAKER, THE RECKONING and THE DESCENT (Gallery Books). The Taker was selected by ALA/Booklist as one of the top ten debut novels of 2011.
Twitter is one of the most widely used websites on the Internet and since its inception, its use has expanded from simple 140-character statements about what you are doing through to many sophisticated applications such as marketing, current affairs and news, emergency services, online 'meet-up's and many uses within education. One area of use is the telling of stories through the 140-character length messages (Messieh, 2013). These might be completely self-contained within a single 'tweet' or told through multiple tweets (for example, Beowulf in 100 Tweets. They may be the work of one or many people. Some can involve groups of people performing different roles within a story (Fitzgerald, 2013). A Twitter ghost (Katsu, 2014) is a story created and told by Alma Katsu, author of The Taker Trilogy. It is the story of a young woman who's boy friend has recently died however he continues to contact her through Twitter. The story examines her reaction to being contacted and the actions she takes to find out whether it is really him who is contacting her. Telling a compelling story through the limitations of Twitter is a challenge and through reading and reflecting on this story, I am starting to form a number of conclusions. It seems a good story is capable of being delivered through many alternative modes (audio, video, text etc). Keeping the reader/view engaged between episodes, chapters etc is another challenge and this is taken to a new level when delivering via Twitter - each Tweet is a 'mini episode' and a potential point for readers to drop off. Katsu seems very aware of this and the tweets in this story always leave something unsaid or unfinished, compelling the reader towards the next tweet. Unit 1 of the Senior Secondary Curriculum for English Literature (ACARA, N. D.) in the Australian Curriculum aims to "develop students’ knowledge and understanding of different ways of reading and creating literary texts". Creating or adapting literary texts to Twitter might be an interesting approach to consider as it also has obvious linkages to development of digital literacies. Certainly there are many examples (Davis, 2008) of stories (for example, Titanic) being adapted to Twitter that are worth examining. The design of some of these can be quite complex with multiple users playing different characters or increasingly the use of images within Twitter as its integration gets better and user interface has better support. 'A Twitter Ghost' relies on the simplicity of Twitter and presents the story as a narration delivered mainly through basic tweets. It is supplemented through occasional images of locations around Washington (where the story is based) and the use of those images does add to the overall experience of the story. Even with the images the story is very accessible and not having access to them would not take anything away from the story itself. Being in the public 'Twittersphere' allows for interaction and discussion and the opportunity for readers and authors to engage with each other (Kasman et al, 2012) however there appears little evidence left now on Twitter that any interaction took place in the development and delivery of the story. In summary, 'A Twitter ghost' is a good example of storytelling from someone who understands how to create a story and deliver it well using the constraints and strengths of Twitter.