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Twitter Launches First-Ever Fiction Festival

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As National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) draws to a close, it's time to turn our eyes to a new collective writing project, NaNoWriMo's opposite in almost every way. The first-ever Twitter Fiction Festival kicked off Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Dec. 5. Crime fiction, myths, epitaphs, sci fi, satire, sonnets, and more figure among the ambitious and experimental proposals accepted as festival selections. Several of the writers involved rely on crowd participation, including South African Lauren Beukes, who will be creating literary "mashups" from community suggestions. The festival doesn't stop at 29 official projects, however; Twitter users are encourage to contribute their own work, whether they gravitate to line-by-line storytelling, collaboration, or whittling a story down to a few carefully chosen characters.

As an example of the latter, writer Teju Cole—who is not officially participating in the festival—has been using Twitter to tell miniature stories for almost two years. Cole evokes what he calls "small fates" in 140 characters, culling and condensing the most hilarious, poignant, and disturbing headlines from Nigerian newspapers and, for a few months earlier this year, the 1912 New York Times. As he explained on his blog, the idea for small fates came from faits divers, the centuries-old newspaper features we might today call "news of the weird." While many of his tweets may not be appropriate for younger readers, older students experimenting with Twitter fiction may find them useful, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

Readers can follow official selections and unofficial contributors alike through the #twitterfiction hashtag, the @twitterbooks account, and at the Fiction Festival showcase page. Fans of Education Week's Industry & Innovation channel may find the Museo Nacional de Ciencia y TecnologĂ­a particularly interesting: it's a Twitter account meant to raise support for a Mexican national museum for, well, science and technology. The as-yet-fictional Museo will be tweeting a futuristic travel tale in Spanish.

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