The Brexit Twitter Project
November 18, 2018 4:12 PM   Subscribe

The Brexit Twitter Project
When the Chequers Plan came out, I found myself accidentally live-parody tweeting it as an effort to stay sane. It turned out to be an interesting experiment in political satire as a writer. So I decided to try it as a more deliberate creative experiment again this time around.

The thinking

I've always been fascinated by how digital (and analogue) formats influence how we write. The medium doesn't dictate style, but it absolutely can influence it. Adapting (and embracing) the limitations of a format can - I think - both make the writing better and present an interesting (and fun!) creative challenge for any writer.

No other platform has fascinated me quite so much in this way than Twitter. Because the enforced character limit, subtweeting and threading, can make a noticeable difference to how well something reads.

Short version: When you see a well-constructed Tweet or thread, I think it really stands out as a writer, and I think it subconsciously stands out as a reader.

Anyway, I'd noticed before - not least during the US Elections - that Twitter's restrictions seem to make radio-play-style short, snappy dialogues really fly. Not least because the format forces you, as a writer, to be really, really tight. Which most of us are terrible at!

So the plan...

1) Live-parody-tweet the current Brexit fustercluck in (relatively) real time, building an evolving narrative and world as I go. Do it as if it were a subtle, BBC Radio Four-esque political satire, rather than take a blunt, in your face comedy approach.

2) Make people laugh. Because, let's face it, we all need that right now.

3) Keep doing this until I get distracted by something shinier (probable) and/or run out of creative ideas (possible) or ridiculous brexit moments to parody (never going to happen)

Secondary goals

1) Test the limits of the Twitter threading format (have already broken it once!).

2) Make enough money off of this if people like it, via ko-fi to buy a round of drinks in the pub.

Results so far

We're onto day three and... well... people seem to like it, and I'm really enjoying both the creative challenge and - weirdly - the characters that are emerging. Definitely going to keep it going for a while yet.

It has also already paid for two rounds of beer.

You can read from the start here
You can read the second thread (after I broke Twitter threading yesterday) here

Am interested in hearing what people think is working and what isn't, and also happy to answer any questions about the thought process behind how I'm writing it (in creative or technical terms) and take suggestions on stuff to try.
Role: Writer
posted by garius (2 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Bravo! The point where Goat Simulator came up was the point where I really started laughing quite painfully hard.

I'm curious if you're familiar with Owen Ellickson's Trump Dialogues from the 2016 US campaign. They're vaguely in the same family, but your work is, fittingly, even more acerbic and dry, and just a little bit less surreal. And in messed up times, there's something about putting words in powerful people's mouths that perhaps makes you feel slightly more in control.
posted by zachlipton at 11:51 PM on November 18, 2018

I'm curious if you're familiar with Owen Ellickson's Trump Dialogues from the 2016 US campaign.

Yes - I enjoyed them at the time and they were probably the biggest lightbulb moments for me in terms of realising how well the Twitter format lends itself to tight dialogues.

your work is, fittingly, even more acerbic and dry, and just a little bit less surreal

One of the benefits of working with British politics as a satirical base I think. There's a strong tradition - from Yes Minister, through Thick of It to Dead Ringers, of this kind of stuff.
posted by garius at 1:30 AM on November 19, 2018

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