Welcome to LongShorts!

LongShorts is a new medium for writing and publishing long-form fiction in little bites. Written to match the rhythm of how readers use their mobile phones, these stories live on social media in a style we call social fiction.

Storytelling is a medium that has always changed with technology. Some of the greatest creative advances in storytelling have come when technology changes how stories are experienced.

This is what excites us. Through the LongShorts project, we want to explore how we can change the experience of stories that fits with today’s technology. We want to find the best ways to share comedy, mystery, action, horror, romance, and drama with new audiences.


Table of Contents

Intro: How long does this take? 

1. Characteristics of this Medium

2. Examples of LongShorts Stories

3. How to Write a LongShorts Story

4. How Stories Are Published

5. Ownership of Stories

6. Pick Your Topic

(FAQ)


How long does this take?

We'd like to move fast towards getting your rough drafts, so here's a rough timeline of what to expect when moving towards joining the LongShorts writers team at 96 Problems!

 
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Today please pick a topic (you'll find out how below) and then email us at writing@96problems.com letting us know which topic you chose.

Within one week please submit your first 24 hours of the topic you chose. Hopefully, the week will give you time to write at your favorite spot!

We review all submissions on Thursday each week. So we'll be in touch with feedback by then if not sooner!

All said the process takes just two weeks :)

Can't wait to start writing? We can't wait to read and give feedback on your Longshorts story! Just check out the instructions below.


1. Characteristics of this Medium

1) FOLLOW CHARACTERS THROUGH THEIR INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS

Each character in a LongShorts story has their own individual twitter account (for now! We’ll be expanding to new social networks in the future), and it’s through this that they tell their part of the story. Though stories are told through a blend of character ‘tweets’ to create scenes and push the plot forward, readers can follow the adventures and drama in the lives of individual characters even outside of the main plot line; imagine for example, if you could follow the wacky hijinks of your favorite cast member in ‘Bojack Horseman’ even if they weren’t a main player in that particular episode.

2) DYNAMIC STORYTELLING

Stories run online and in real-time, with updates delivered to readers as they happen. Stories might run for days, weeks, and months, as they follow the journeys of the characters that star in them. Characters that enter stories late will have a history of past tweets that readers can dig into to discover backstory and better understand the story world.

3) DEEPER STORIES THROUGH A MULTIPLE MEDIA APPROACH

Characters are alive right now, in the present, and have access to all the technology that we have now. This means stories can be fleshed out and given depth through the use of lots of social media – characters might post to Instagram or use GIFs to express their emotions; in other stories clues to a mystery might be found in the blogs and videos uploaded by various characters. These little details can add depth and realism to the fictional world in which these characters live; and may even become opportunities for readers to engage with the characters in real-time.


2. Examples of LongShorts Stories

a) A Classic Adapted to LongShorts

Imagine if the story of Romeo & Juliet were told again, today. How would characters interact with each other? Here follows an example of how we think Romeo & Juliet could be written as a LongShorts story:

SYNOPSIS:

The play, set in Verona, Italy, begins with a street brawl between Montague and Capulet servants who, like their masters, are sworn enemies. Prince Escalus of Verona intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death. Later, Count Paris talks to Capulet about marrying his daughter Juliet, but Capulet asks Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a planned Capulet ball. Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse try to persuade Juliet to accept Paris's courtship.

START WITH CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS:

A FEW TWEETS ON DAY 1:

b) Original Stories on LongShorts

Try reading a few of our original LongShorts stories below. Please keep in mind that for the LongShorts audience the stories would not be read in this format, but would be tweeted from accounts in real time.

THE BARTENDER

A solitary, anonymous soul tells the lonely tales of his transient patrons, starting with a lost love story.

 

IN SEARCH OF

A man searches for his wife in the remains of a disaster struck town, with his story is told by the people he meets.

THE BAND

Three guys and their manager on a quest to breakthrough to stardom, or something like it.


3. Tips on Writing a LongShorts Story

Reactions vs. Dialogue to Create a Scene

Twitter is like a soapbox that sometimes acts as a diving board into discussion, so it’s important to keep this in mind when writing stories. It’s tempting to use dialogue to provide exposition, but our characters are like people; if they’re going to chat, they’ll probably do it through a native app (messenger, etc.).

Within the twitter format, it makes more sense to have multiple characters tweet their own experiences of a scene, and let the reader put the pieces together. For example, when a group of people go camping and one forgets film for a camera, you might write something like this:

@characterA: 😕

@characterC: Jesus, I wish @characterB would stop shouting already.

@characterB: What kind of an idiot forgets to put film in the camera. #seriously #youhadonejob #rage

Introducing Characters

In a story with multiple characters, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS

Characters should ideally tweet like people would in real life. If you’re unsure about this, jump on twitter and do a little research; find a variety of accounts and look at how people tweet. Of course, there may be times you’ll bend these rules for your story, but believable characters will go a long way to drawing readers in.

INTRO'ING CHARACTERS

If you have a cast of multiple characters, it’s worth thinking about ways to introduce them so your story doesn’t feel like a jumble of multiple voices. Perhaps have only one or two characters tweet on day one, and once they are established, introduce another.

VOICE & PERSONALITY

Though it perhaps goes without saying, it’s important to differentiate your characters early. You can do this by giving each character a different voice, or by defining character personalities early (e.g. perhaps one of your characters really likes video games, perhaps another one is defined by what he does for work, etc.)  

Action in Real-Time

Some situations lend themselves to live-tweeting events as they happen. Sports matches are a good example. But in other situations you’ll want to be careful about when characters are tweeting, and make sure their tweeting behavior makes sense. For example, in a school drama, if Character A is in the principal’s office, it’s unlikely he’ll tweet in real time. To flesh out a scene like this, have other characters in the story describe what’s going on, and come back to Character A after the event for a reaction (when he’d believably have access to his phone again.) For example:

Character B: Oh man, @CharacterA just got sent to the principal’s office. I guess it finally caught up with him.

Character C: Woah! O’Shaughenessy sure knows how to shout when he’s angry. You can probably hear that from space!

Character D: I should probably get out of here before @CharacterA rats on me.

(some time later)

Character A: Don’t talk to me. Anyone. I can’t even hear anyway. I think I am deaf. #realtalk #notfunnyiftrue

Using Media

People use twitter to share photos, videos, GIFs, links, and all sorts of media. Your characters are no different; some of them might like to tweet or reply with images and GIFs, while others might sometimes link to articles they’ve enjoyed reading or that push the story further.

Note: Keep things achievable. It’s a great idea for characters to be fleshed out in their Instagram or Youtube accounts, and blogs they might write outside of their Twitter life, but always keep the workload in mind – running and planning social media accounts for multiple characters can be quite a challenge!

Other Tips

Check out this (high-speed!) instructional video for a number of tips on how to write LongShorts stories using our writing tool (link after you've chosen your topic, below).


4. How Stories Are Published

Once the tweets that compose a LongShorts Story are created, we create character accounts and load their tweets into a tweet-scheduling application that will automatically send them out at the times specified in your story. That’s why it’s so important to think about and note the timing (down to the minute) of each character’s tweet.

LongShorts Stories are now being “test-read” by a select group of beta readers, which includes other writers, publishers, and fiction lovers. The accounts are all locked, so these stories aren’t “out there” on public Twitter yet. If you decide you’d like to be a LongShorts writer, we’ll be in touch before any of your writing “goes live.”


5. Ownership

Ownership:

  • Your Rights to Original Content: You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant the Company a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, and fully paid license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).
    • TIP: This license lets us publish your work to the world through our platform, to get as many readers as possible.
       
  • Your Rights to Requested content: For any Content explicitly requested by the Company, including any work submitted by you in relation to the topics described at www.readlongshorts.com/instructions (such Content termed "Work for Hire"), once submitted, becomes property of the Company. You retain no ownership of the Work for Hire, and the Work for Hire may not be shown by you in any publicly accessible place or portfolio, unless separate written permission to show such Work for Hire is obtained by the Company.
  • Character Accounts: In order to ensure the smooth provision of the Services, you agree that the Company will create and control any and all social media accounts created for the purposes of displaying the Content on the Services.
  • Terms of Service: For further details regarding your rights as they relate to your use of the services provided herein by 96 Problems, please refer to the Terms of Service.

6. Pick Your Topic

Now it's time to pick your topic and get started doing what you enjoy… writing! 😄

*Note: Start out by writing just the next 24 hours of the story, then let us take a look. We’d like to review the first day of tweets in order to help you get it right for this new medium.

For other concerns please take a look at the FAQ list below or contact us at at writing@96problems.com


(FAQ)

1. How Much Do You Pay? 💰

A. We pay a guaranteed $50 for each completed week-long story, plus an additional $250 for each "Premium Story" completed.

Additionally, for every story completed we create a website dedicated to your story (like these!) and an author page on the LongShorts app with attribution to you!

Finally, we'll be spreading these stories to the world on your behalf as we market the LongShorts app :)

2. What kind of genre can I write?

A. Though we will consider stories in any genre, we are leaning towards material that blurs the line between fiction and reality i.e. set in the present day. A good point of reference is asking the question “Would an unknowing reader believe this to be a real twitter account?

3. Who is going to read my story?

A. We have a list of more than 500 beta readers (to grow to over 1,000 in November, 2016) at the moment. These beta readers are mostly writers, publishers, editors and other story lovers. In the future, upon releasing LongShorts stories to the world through a platform we are building now, we aim to make your social fiction stories accessible to a worldwide audience of over 500,000 people in the first year. The platform (which will live primarily as an iPhone / Android app) will be advertised in the most popular tech websites and writing communities in the USA and Europe.

4. How long are these stories?

A. There are no hard and fast rules in terms of length. We've found that readers like stories around one-week in length, with the option for continuation pending reader response. It can helpful to think of one week as a the first chapter or episode.

5. What rights do I own?

A. Unless the topic is requested by us, your work is owned by you. By distributing your story on the LongShorts platform, you simply agree to license your work to be displayed by us on social media and the LongShorts app.

6. How many tweets per day do I need to write?

A. Before thinking about how many total tweets, answer these questions: how often do these characters tweet? When do they tweet most? There is no mandatory number of tweets -- it all depends on what fits the story. Based on our experience writing the first LongShorts stories, the average story contains about 250 tweets per week.

7. Can I see any examples of stories?

A. If you'd like to read an example of a story we wrote, check out these (or check out the app!):

The Bartender: A solitary, anonymous soul tells the lonely tales of his transient patrons

In Search Of: A man searches for his wife in the remains of a disaster struck down, and his story is told through the people he meets.

The Band: Three guys and their manager on a quest to stardom, or something like it.

8. Can I write my personal story or I need to choose from the prompts?

A. Our doors are always open for good stories, but we ask you start with one of the topic prompts provided here first. These are crafted to help you understand the LongShorts story format. When you feel comfortable with this new medium, we hope you’ll start to get ideas for your own masterpiece!