Short Story Tweetathon

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.

The Society of Authors short story tweetathon will launch on Writer Wednesday, 14 September 2011. 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 by authors Simon Brett, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris, Ian Rankin and Sarah Waters . 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 the SoA website. Each week’s writer and first line will be announced on Wednesday morning, starting with Ian Rankin on 14 September.

Beginning at 11 am and finishing at 4pm one sentence will be tweeted every hour on the hour, followed by half an hour for submissions and half an hour for the judging and posting of the winning sentence on the SOA website. Sentences cannot exceed the 140 character limit, including the hashtag @soatale.

The stories and rules can be viewed at


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 on BBC radio have declined from 6 weekly broadcasts to 2 per week, with midweek slots being reduced from 3 to 1 on Friday afternoons.

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

Sarah Waters said: 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.

Nicola Solomon, General Secretary of the SOA, 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.

As well as the cultural and creative impact of the cuts, the SOA is concerned that the BBC’s new scheduling will restrict linked themes and creative programming, and that the proposed time slots will limit the audience.

6,500 listeners have signed the online petition

which hopes to reverse the decision to reduce the short story output on Radio 4.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson and Chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten are reviewing the decision to make cuts to short story programmes. It would help if more signatories made their objections known. More details and short bios on all those taking part can be found on the SOA website.

If you’d like more information about this story, or to obtain quotes from any of the authors, please call or email Rachel O’Malley, romalley@societyofauthors.org, 'phone 0207 373 6642

Additional contact email: Nicola Solomon: nsolomon@societyofauthors.org

Back to top


Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other sites
Sitemap xml
Contact Us