Join a Short Story Tweetathon! (#sotale)

Launching on 14 September 2011 for 5 consecutive weeks, Simon Brett, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris, Ian Rankin and Sarah Waters will lead a short story tweetathon in which authors and tweeters will collaborate to write a short story in 670 characters.

Over September the Society of Authors will launch a short story tweetathon on #WriterWednesday. In a never-before-attempted collaboration between top authors and tweeters, one story a week will be written via Twitter. Five first-line contributions of varying genres will be tweeted from authors Simon Brett (The Feathering Mysteries), Neil Gaiman (American Gods), Joanne Harris (Chocolat), Ian Rankin (the Rebus novels) and Sarah Waters (The Night Watch).

Tweeters following the Society are invited to complete the next 4 sentences. Every hour the best lines will be selected and the resulting short stories will be published on this website. Each week’s writer and first line will be announced on Wednesday morning, starting with Ian Rankin on 14 September.

Beginning at 11am and finishing at 4pm, one sentence will be tweeted every hour on the hour. Tweeters will then have 30 minutes to submit their tweets, which will be selected before the next line is tweeted. The winning short story will be published on the Society of Author website, but I’ll also publish them here ;0).

Sentences cannot exced the 140 character limit, including the hash tag, #soatale.

This campaign was created by the SoA in response to the BBC short story cuts happening despite a short story renaissance in recent years. Since 2009, and since the recent announcement that BBC R4’s World at One will be extended, short story slots have declined from 6 weekly broadcasts to 2 per week, with midweek slots being reduced from 3 to one on Friday afternoons.

Ian Rankin said: ‘I got my real start with short stories on R4; I would hate for future generations of writers not to have the same chance.’

Sarah Waters said: ‘At a time when arts funding generally is at risk, and when reading in particular is under attack by the proposed closure of local libraries, we need to do all we can to preserve and to celebrate our nation’s literary culture. The popularity of the regular short story slot on Radio 4 is demonstrated by the eloquence and passion of the voices being raised to save it.

‘Listeners seem to understand what BBC controllers do not: that the marriage of radio and fiction is a match made in heaven. Radio 4 has a wonderful tradition of championing the short story, entertaining and informing its audience with new and classic writing, nurturing our vital powers of imagination, creativity and empathy. It’s a huge shame that the BBC’s own imagination seems to be failing it now. I really hope that it will reconsider this barmy proposition.’

Joanne Harris said: ‘So many people rely on R4 to provide the cultural focus that so many other stations have wholly abandoned. Please don’t let them down now. Keep the short stories coming!’

Nicola Solomon said: ‘We are concerned not only at the loss of half the short story slots but also at the proposed new timing: up to two years ago and for almost the last 40 years there were opportunities to hear the short story every weekday on Radio Four. Under the new plans the only weekday offering would be at 3:45pm on a Friday. We believe that it will be difficult to give sufficient impact to the short story when the scheduling is so piecemeal. The tweetathon is a contemporary celebration of the continuing power and appeal of the short story.’

More details can be found from the Society of Authors web site:

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