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Bob Jones writers explore new angles in Twitter Fiction Festival

Bob Jones student Emily Bohatch used multiple story lines with Hoot Suite to create a tweet that was chosen for the Twitter Fiction Festival website. (CONTRIBUTED)
Bob Jones student Emily Bohatch used multiple story lines with Hoot Suite to create a tweet that was chosen for the Twitter Fiction Festival website. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – About 70 writers at Bob Jones High School explored a new communication horizon with the Twitter Fiction Festival.

Multimedia teacher Brandy Panagos learned about the weeklong festival from literary magazines and Twitter reviews. The festival was open to any Twitter user.

“Brad Meltzer, A.J. Jacobs, Michael Ian Black and Jim Gaffigan were among many participants, but the guest of the live event that was streamed on YouTube was R.L. Stein of ‘Goosebumps’ fame,” Panagos said.

Using Twitter, participants told their stories unfettered at #twitterfiction hashtag so readers easily could follow tweets. Several Bob Jones students’ tweets were selected for display on the official website.

“We were even more excited when one featured artist interacted with our class and created an illustration just for us,” Panagos said.

“One of the great things about a new storytelling format is that there isn’t a prescribed way to do it,” she said. “There aren’t any instructions, and that can be both liberating and frightening.”

Some storytellers submitted flash fiction. Others told stories in 140 characters maximum. Panagos cited a Ernest Hemingway story with six words:  “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Some students assumed a character’s persona and tweeted as that character. “The experience was similar to Faulkner’s ‘As I Lay Dying,'” Panagos said.

Student Madelyn Wong created watercolor paintings; “each tweet felt like a comic panel, Panagos said. Storm Taylor’s “first-person narrator having an existential crisis” was published in “The Eclectic” magazine. Casey Marley, Nkechi Nnorom and James Faw created a parody of “The Office.”

Opposed to Facebook, most teenagers prefer Instagram or Snapchat. Yet, many students didn’t know how to use Twitter or hashtags, she said. “The concept of a digital native is a myth.”

Panagos hopes classroom teachers can model how students can use social media with purpose and even invent ways to use it creatively. “If we aren’t teaching them how to use it, we can’t be too upset when they make mistakes.”

For information, visit twitterfictionfestival.com.

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