A story of a thousand tweets begins with a single twit
October 14, 2009 9:35 AM   Subscribe

One day ago, Neil Gaiman wrote the beginning of a story, which was retweeted by BBC Audiobooks America as the first of a thousand or so tweets that would compiled and edited to become an audiobook. People are still contributing, and BBCAA's blog has four scenes compiled (1, 2, 3, summary of scenes 1-3, and 4), for a total of 175 tweets. When 1,000 or so tweets are logged, they'll be edited into a script, and produced in a studio to make the final audiobook, which will be released for free on BBCAA's website. This isn't the first game of exquisite corpse played via twitter that made a piece to be refined and presented in some way. The first Twitter opera was one of a few recent "gimmicks" to garner attention for the Royal Opera House (twitter opera feed, ROH twitter feed, ROH blog). The result, Twitterdammerung, was given a decent review by opera critic Igor Toronyi-Lalic.
posted by filthy light thief (32 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I wonder if anyone will play exquisite corpse with these comments, he wondered.
posted by The Whelk at 9:41 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another interesting Gaiman internet creation was the auctioning of naming rights to raise funds for a non-profit, as mentioned by Elinor Mills. Neil sold the option to name a cruise ship in Anansi Boys in May 2005 (start reading on March 5th and work your way up, if you want the chronological progression from "I have no idea what to call this ship" to someone winning and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund getting $3,533. This lead to the First Amendment Project getting support from a bevy of authors in the same way.

Sorry to break the attempted story, I am sorry
posted by filthy light thief at 9:46 AM on October 14, 2009

The post looked fascinating and was packed with links. He couldn't wait to dig into this one, but a sharp rap on the window to his left drew his attention.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:03 AM on October 14, 2009

Suddenly a shot rang out!
posted by marxchivist at 10:20 AM on October 14, 2009

A face ducked just out of his field of vision as the man leaped to his feet.
posted by scrutiny at 10:23 AM on October 14, 2009

These days I feel like Neil Gaiman's not even really prolific anymore, he's just bored.
posted by hermitosis at 10:36 AM on October 14, 2009

"Was that the telegram girl?" He grabbed the fireplace poker and said to the cat.,"This may be the worst Arbor Day ever Mr. Cuddles."
posted by The Whelk at 10:36 AM on October 14, 2009

Mr. Cuddles arched his back and hissed. He slashed the air with his claws. The cat had never reacted so violently to the mention of Arbor Day before.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:42 AM on October 14, 2009

"So they trees have gotten to you too?". He lunged at Mr. Cuddles with the poker, thinking of Wanger.
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 AM on October 14, 2009

"Trees?" said Mr. Cuddles. "There are stranger things here than trees."
posted by InfidelZombie at 10:48 AM on October 14, 2009


And at that moment, a lumberjack lunged through the window, knocking the poker to the ground.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:51 AM on October 14, 2009

These days I feel like Neil Gaiman's not even really prolific anymore, he's just bored.

I finished reading Fragile Things a few days ago, and in it he wrote about his writing processes, from stories written under deadline and for specific publication and items he just comes up with. I think he's of the rare sort that can spout fantastic things almost at request. But I'm a fanboy, and rather biased in the classification of things "fantastic."

posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on October 14, 2009

WTF THE CAT TALKS he grabbed the poker and lunged at the feline thinking it was a plot by those "tree planters"
posted by wheelieman at 11:15 AM on October 14, 2009

and it really got strange.
posted by The Whelk at 11:30 AM on October 14, 2009

The lumberjack spoke with the confidence of the barrel-chested, "You'd do best to think long and hard about taking a poker to a cat when I'm about, pencil dick." Mr. Cuddles, habitually wary of strangers, fixed his dilated pupils on the lumberjack. In the air, the only thing thicker than the reek of ammonia from the litter box was the stench of mutual distrust.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:31 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, in the forest,
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:33 AM on October 14, 2009

The telegram girl rested against a freshly felled tree, nursing a twisted ankle. Think, Dahlia! Why would Mr. Cuddles have summoned you? It's been five years without contact.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:37 AM on October 14, 2009

She moonlighted as the Goddess of post-marital sex, which, given the name 'Cloacina', implies a grave misunderstanding of human anatomy.
posted by vanar sena at 11:40 AM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled & said, We don't love you anymore. (via neilhimself)

Neil sets this up nicely with a simple idea and a dark overtone. The phrase "the girl in the mirror" establishes the otherness of the image.

Sam fell backwards, off of her stool, then peeked up over the edge of the table at her own reflection (via PockyBum522)

Oh good god. Slapstick comedy, then a deliberate slap in the face of Neil's careful word choice.

I can't bear to read more.
posted by CaseyB at 11:55 AM on October 14, 2009

You made it further than I did.

Largely because of the whole "read from the bottom up" bullshit.

posted by graventy at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2009

The trees refused to talk, of course. Dahlia nervously logged in on her iphone implant: Login MegaFilter: Cloacina: Search For : "..the spark has gone out of my marriage..."

Just then, she heard the lumberjack crash through the window.
posted by The Whelk at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

She sat up sharply and logged off: trolling AskMe for lulz would have to wait. Dahlia stood and gingerly tested her ankle. Pain, but not debilitating. She plunged through the thicket toward the sound of the crash. Careening down the steep and uneven grade, the onetime Goddess, now robbed by fear of the greater part of powers unexpectedly remembered Wanger's warning some months ago: Mr. Cuddles will never consent to be an indoor cat.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:25 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Mr. Cuddles caught a waft of fresh air from the window. If he'd let me out once in a while, this place could always smell like that, he thought as he leaped into the forest.

Will she be waiting?
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:32 PM on October 14, 2009

The lumberjack stared down the fire poker. "So it comes down to you and me." "You bastard, you had to pick Arbor Day. Our day."
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 PM on October 14, 2009

"Arbor day was NEVER your day! You and your kind always looked to profit from the trees! You never loved them like I did, like Cloacina did!"
posted by filthy light thief at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2009

Cloacina herself was bored, terribly terribly bored, by the whole thing. In the old days, she had steamed with stifled fury at the very thought of her sister, Clitteratta, fantastic skank-goddess of extramarital sex. When a middle-aged banker found late-in-life lust for a gum-popping, tanning-bed-addicted teenybopper working the teller's window in total obliviousness to her victim's very existence, there was Clitteratta; when a young swinging dick sent up prayers that what marked his latest sin was merely an abrasion, and not some tell-tale contagion that would find him out when passed from bar conquest to wife, the burning ears they fell upon were a cackling Clitteratta's; when a wife wondered which of her friends' husbands were the true father of what grew in her womb, Clitteratta knew, and was always properly scandalized. For her own part, when it came to her own subjects, Cloacina could barely bring herself to pay attention. Their invocations to her were heavy sighs; their hymns' chorus a bone-weary, "Time to make the donuts." In time she came to ignore these sad mortals altogether. She'd never find it in herself to break it off with them, she supposed -- she hated confrontation, and anyway, she was too tired to fight -- but figured one day they would get the hint.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:25 PM on October 14, 2009

Everything seems better if it's on Twitter.

(the reaction reminds me of those bland, predictable, oh-so-awful TV shows that everyone thinks are "groundbreaking" or "fresh" because they're on HBO or Showtime)
posted by Zambrano at 2:38 PM on October 14, 2009

Scenes 5 and 6 are up now, still under 300 tweets.

If not better, I think everything is newer if it's on Twitter, as if somehow speaking in stilted sentences instead of longer thoughts is a truly novel way to communicate.

Also: I, too, am annoyed by BBCAA's re-posting the tweets in reverse chronological order, yet numbering them top down.


At least she had the life of Dahlia to distract her from dull goddesshood. The life of a telegram girl was generally interesting, if not as thrilling and exotic as her sister's domain. It always made her smile, to think that the tart was a metermaid in the lands of man. It seems there is some balance in the universe. But this corner of the universe needed some attention, and Arbor Day was not a day of thoughts, especially ...
posted by filthy light thief at 4:30 PM on October 14, 2009

"the trees can hear you, they wont like that." And then there was a great crashing sound. Dahlia was in the hall, screaming. They didn't have time to react, the lumberjack kept laughing. The trees wanted more.
posted by The Whelk at 5:09 PM on October 14, 2009

Mr. Cuddles watched the carnage from the safety of the forest. The bastard didn't deserve that, but there was nothing to be done about it now.

"Dahlia... Dahlia, we have to go!"

He ran to her and patted her on the calf with his paw. "Dahlia!"

This seemed to do the trick, and she followed him out the door, into the forest, and downhill towards the river. After a while, she said "I left the boat tied to the dock down by the school."

"Good. By this time tomorrow we should be able to meet up with Ricardo and get the jewel. That's half of what we need right there. This time, your sister is going to pay."
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:34 PM on October 14, 2009

"Last time, she tricked me into accepting fake mice with rattles in their bellies. Not this time, lady!"
posted by filthy light thief at 6:54 AM on October 15, 2009

The story is complete with 847 tweets (by my tally), and here's the rest of the links:

* Day 3: the story so far
- Scene 7, Scene 8

* Day 4: the story so far
- Scene 9, Scene 10

A poll for Scene 11 (due to some divergent story lines, I would presume)

* Day 5: the story so far
- Scene 11, Scene 12

* Day 6: the story so far
- Scene 13, Scene 14

* Day 7: the story so far
- Scene 15

* Day 8: the story so far
- Scene 16, The Final Scene

# The Whole Story
posted by filthy light thief at 1:43 PM on October 26, 2009

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