A Cornucopia of Virtual Storytelling

If you’ve ever dreamed of sharing a story with the world, November offers an abundance of online opportunities for writers.

The month kicks off, as it has for the past 13 years, with NaNoWriMo, the nickname for National Novel Writing Month, in which tens of thousands of writers scramble to complete a 50,000-word novel while friends, the spouse you’ve been ignoring, and fellow authors follow your progress online.

Meanwhile, Twitter – yes, the social platform that restricts writers to 140-characters-per-post – is getting in the game with the just-announced Twitter Fiction Festival, a five-day virtual storytelling event that begins Nov. 28.

30 Days & Nights of Literary Abandon

Last year, starting on Nov. 1, more than 256,000 writers pledged to participate in the annual NaNoWriMo event; 36,843 typed “The End” by the Nov. 30 deadline.

As many writers and writing books will tell you, it’s crucial to banish “the Editor” who hovers over your shoulder, continually shouting disapproving, censorious comments in your ear as you create. Just write, writers are encouraged. Get your hand moving across the page!

This is the point of NaNoWriMo: “Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.”

The NaNoWriMo website offers a virtual community of support (and live events in your neighborhood), as well as forums for sharing your angst and glories with other authors, writing tips and support, a Young Writers Program, and a virtual space to track your progress, share your work and read novels by fellow participants.


“Twitter is a place to tell stories,” Andrew Fitzgerald, of Twitter’s media team, reminds us on the Twitter blog. “Often those stories are about news, or politics, or perhaps sports or music, but it turns out Twitter is a great place for telling fictional stories, too.”

The Atlantic, The New Yorker and others have used Twitter’s live-blogging platform to experiment with storytelling, and now Twitter wants to push the medium even further. For writers who want to participate, submit your proposal to Twitter by Thursday, Nov. 15, explaining how you want to tell your story using existing Twitter tools, like chats, or inventing entirely new ones. The only requirement is that your story unfold sometime during the five-day festival.

Twitter will announce the names of the selected participating authors on Nov. 19, and the festival gets under way on Nov. 28. You can follow the event at the hashtag: #twitterfiction.

What about you? Is there a novel you’ve been aching to send out into the world? Curious about the possibilities of tweaking Twitter to tell your short stories? I’d love to hear about it in the Comments.

2 thoughts on “A Cornucopia of Virtual Storytelling

  1. Hi Vickie,

    Thanks for the heads up on November’s writing opportunities.

    To answer your questions: I have lots of things to say to the world (and I keep a journal for that!) and the NaNoWriMo sounds interesting but — I don’t think I’m disciplined enough for that this year!
    I’m curious about Twitter but STILL haven’t warmed up to the format.

    Is there a way for those of us who have not entered the competitions to follow these events?

    P.S. I like the title for this post!

    • Hi Rita,

      NaNoWriMo is most definitely a commitment that requires a lot of understanding from family and friends (and pets) to accomplish – especially since many participants are working full-time jobs and writing early in the morning or late at night.

      The Twitter Fiction Festival looks interesting for its potential to change the way people use the Twitter platform.

      In terms of Twitter, you’d need a Twitter account to follow the festival via the hashtag. You may need a login to the NaNoWriMo site, as well, to view stories in progress. Neither sign-up requires that you use the platform or participate.

      If there’s coverage of the Twitter Festival, I’ll provide an update, so folks can see what’s been created.

      Thanks for the compliment on the title – it felt appropriately November-y.

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