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Twitter Fiction

Julie Brandenburg’s online story

Feb. 8, 2011
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Julie Brandenburg has been a musical presence in Milwaukee for years, playing keyboards and leading alternative-progressive rock bands such as True Heart Susie and The Julie B Well. Recent years have found her composing music in a contemporary classical vein, teaching voice, piano and music appreciation at MATC and Lakeland College, and working with Present Music in a program to coach young composers. Last year she branched out into a new creative endeavor, writing and posting a work of fiction, The Ferns, told through the tweets of the protagonist. It might be the only work of its kind to date.

Where did the idea come from?

I woke up one morning with some philosophical thoughts about what it would be like if you could have absolutely everything you wanted. I sketched it out and it seemed bigger than a song. Dialogue from the main character kept popping into my head. I thought it would be very interesting to tell this story completely through the character’s Twitter posts.

What was the response?

First of all, the character is not me! I did a test run with a couple of my friends and didn’t tell them what I was doing. They’d thought I’d lost my mind! Initially, I had 10 followers, including young people and people my age. They followed it all the way through and were curious to see what was going on. It’s a dark story—a little creepy.

Can you summarize it?

A young woman wakes up and finds herself in unusual circumstances that she can’t understand. The story takes her on the journey of having everything. It’s a mystery throughout and the mystery is resolved—to some extent.

How long were you tweeting the story?

Around three-and-a-half months. There were hundreds of postings.

Did you write it as you went along?

I had a story structure with a beginning and an end and the characters. I’d sometimes write ahead—maybe two weeks ahead of the postings. But I wanted to spread the writing out so that it sounded natural—as if it were happening in real time.

So no one else has done anything like this?

I’ve tried to find someone else and haven’t yet. After I was under way, someone contacted me. Under the name of DeadEndFiction, he’s written awesome 140-character horror stories—each one self-contained in a single tweet. That’s even more challenging than what I’m doing!

What’s next?

I’ve been asked to run The Ferns again in real time with the same spacing in time starting Feb. 20. This time I’m putting it on my Twitter account (juliebfiction) and on Facebook (Julie B Fiction). I’m making more of an effort to get the word out.


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