Fourth Fiction Twitter Launch July 4th

Jun 24, 2009 by

THE JULY 4TH LAUNCH for Fourth Fiction—the first blog-based reality show—is nearing. Here’s how it will work. On the night of July 4th, I will briefly introduce the 12 contestants through a blog post here on Fourth Night. At midnight each of them will be given access to the new Fourth Fiction Twitter page, where they can begin posting.  

The competition will begin on August 4th. So why the July Twitter launch? Primarily to introduce the writers to the readers and give them a chance to get to know their fellow contestants (insofar as that’s possible considering their identities will remain undisclosed during the contest). Since Fourth Fiction is a writing-based reality competition, Twitter’s text-based anonymous format is ideal.

I initially intended to have each of the 12 contestants set up a separate Twitter page. I decided against that because it would require readers to keep up with 12 separate pages and it would confuse those unfamiliar with Twitter. Having all the content under one URL simplifies matters. With one page I can also stream a live feed on my website. 

Of course, 12 writers—or rather, 13, since I’ll also be updating as the host—all posting under one username may make for mildly schizophrenic reading. Not much can be done about this. The contestants will identify themselves by a capitalized four-letter name with a colon, which will be appended at the beginning of each Twitter post (giving them 134 characters to work with instead of 140). For example, I will identify myself on the Fourth Fiction Twitter page as HOST:

I also plan to aggregate the tweets of each contestant here on Fourth Night on June 14th, 24th and July 4th so that readers can access all of the Twitter posts from each contestant in one place uninterrupted.

There will also be limits on the number of tweets that each contestant can post so that nobody dominates the feed. It’s my hope that all 12 contestants will participate to some extent in this July pre-competition introduction, but I know that a few of them presently have some reservations, to put it diplomatically, about my having incorporated Twitter into the mix. 

Those who know nothing about Twitter need not sign up to read the posts. Anybody can access the page at For those already on Twitter, if you follow @FourthFiction you will be followed back. (Note for the Twitter-savvy: I’m using #4thnight as the hashtag identifier. If you have suggestions for a better search term, please let me know.) 

You can also follow all of the July pre-competition tweeting without leaving this website. I will have a full live feed of the Fourth Fiction Twitter page running in the sidebar (the abbreviated feed that you currently see to the right is linked to my Fourth Night Twitter page). That way, you can just go to whenever you want to read all of the contestants’ latest Twitter posts. 

On June 14th I issued an open call to anyone interested in being an outside participant in the competition. There was sufficient interest so I plan to go ahead with that. The actual writing contest, which takes place on this website, doesn’t begin until August 4th so there will be more details for outside participants as the date approaches. If you know others who may be interested, please direct them here. They can post a comment under my Open Call post (preferred) or contact me by email.  

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the Obama administration and to state and municipal governments for generously organizing and funding the innumerable firework displays that will take place throughout the U.S. on the night of July 4th to celebrate the launch of Fourth Fiction.

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  1. I’ll see if I can get permission to put a sticky note up at the Write Anything blog about outside participants for Fourth Fiction. We’re getting 100+readers there a day.

    I’m so excited to see how this will all pan out.

  2. Fantastic last paragraph! Question: what kind of commitment will be required of outside participants? Certain number of days a week? words a week? Is it only for fiction, and is that a dumb question?

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