13 Beautiful Pieces of Twitter Fiction Remind Us How Powerful Reading Can Be

Illustration of a hashtag engraved on an open book

"On November 28 at 10:13 p.m. EST a woman identified as Miranda Brown, 44, of Brooklyn, fell to her death from the roof of a Manhattan hotel."

With this single sentence, Elliott Holt began last year's Twitter Fiction Festival. She also proved to the world that Twitter fiction is a powerful and revolutionary form. Within 140 characters, Holt gave herself a mystery to solve. For readers, it's like hearing a headline on the news — we're hooked.

A year later, the Twitter Fiction Festival is beginning again, and the world of book lovers is learning that Twitter is a uniquely powerful storytelling medium. From parody accounts and short stories to rephrased poetry and tweets accompanied by photographs, #TwitterFiction shows that some of the most beautiful and evocative language happens in under 140 characters. Even people with no time to read will remember just how powerful stories can be with these 13 tweets:

1. Jennifer Egan

As one of the first #TwitterFiction writers, Egan does more than relay plot elements through tweets. She also offers insight into those aspects of being human that we all seem to notice but rarely articulate. This allows readers to see themselves and their actions in her stories.

2. Elliott Holt

Holt told her murder mystery through three characters who tweeted throughout the fictional evening. Here, Holt gives a beautiful single line to completely characterize this man. Because of that subtle "of course," we're a little endeared to Sasha — she probably means well.

3. Alina Simone

Like the best storytellers, Simone establishes the status quo as well as the moment that breaks the pattern, and it's there that the story begins to take shape. We're immediately hooked by the suggestiveness of this line.

4. Zombie Mom (Andrew Shaffer)

Shaffer created a persona account to chronicle life as a "Zombie Mom" raising her daughter, Brianna. In one line, she conveys both that she is a caring parent, and that (sigh) her daughter is decomposing.

5. Rahm Emanuel (Dan Sinker)

When is it not hilarious for parody accounts to pop up and give us insight into what slightly crazy people are probably saying in their interior monologue? #TwitterFiction gave us this parody of Rahm Emanuel by Sinker, setting the stage for many other parody accounts at this year's event, including David Javerbaum's account @TheTweetofGod.

Look out for a new book of the bible, 140 characters at a time.

6. Jennifer Wilson

Wilson tweeted photos of strange gravestones and then crowdsourced epitaphs to tell their stories, challenging readers to say something about an entire life in just one tweet.

7. Elan Gale

Gale used supplementary photos to tell a story. By using text in the photo, we're given the image of a scene as well as the plot itself.

8. Chaucer

Okay, this isn't Chaucer, but someone tweeted about the #TwitterFiction Festival in mock-Middle-English. Perhaps Chaucer would have live-tweeted the Canterbury Tales if he'd had the chance.

9. Amy McCulloch

McCulloch participated in #litmash alongside #TwitterFiction, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe's stories in a singsong Dr. Seuss rhyme. Onomatopoeia never hurts a story, does it?

10. Joanne Harris

Take that, Prince. Strong female characters are all over #TwitterFiction, and it's as simple as a reimagined "happily ever after."

11. W.W. Norton

W.W. Norton retold scenes of Hamlet in 10 crowdsourced retweets. Here's a rather inventive take on a line from Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy.

12. Lucy Coats

Coats used 100 tweets to retell 100 different Greek myths as if they were headlines. #TwitterFiction can be used to get right to the point of the stories we might not have ever understood.

13. Alberto Chimal

Chimal's clear language here make us think things in his story will take a turn for the better. He also implies that no one in the story will be set free, so we have to stick around for more tweets.

It's a great hook — for the story and for the form.