Guest Blogger: Megan Breidenstein, Marian E. Wright Writing Center

At the beginning of the fall 2012 semester, the Marian E. Wright Writing Center launched its presence on Twitter. Using the handle @UMFlintWC the writing center hoped to get campus connected with writing tips, hints, and other writers. While the response to the initial launch was more than expected, there was still a lack of connectedness. As the semester moved forward, ideas began to be tossed around as to how to get the campus population involved with the writing center on Twitter. There were several ideas that came about; however, only one ended up being the winner.

When my writing center director, Dr. Jacob Blumner, told me I could create a Twitter account for the writing center, I was ecstatic. I had been asking for two years if we could get one. Part of my interest during graduate school at UM-Flint was focused on digital rhetoric and taking classes instructed by Dr. James Schirmer. I discovered the benefits of what Twitter can do for individuals as well as a community. I wanted our Twitter account to succeed so I began to think of possible ideas to get the word out there about our online presence. I came up with an idea—inspired by flash fiction and the idea of the networked book—to create a community story collaboratively written on Twitter by the UM-Flint campus population.

The #UMFlintBoo project was launched over a five-day period building up to Halloween. Since it was a last-minute idea, we weren’t sure what to expect. However, the first day we were shocked to see how quickly the story evolved. Without ever sitting down with each other and talking through ideas, the story created a main character, Nora, and built up an interesting plot, villain, and suspense.

By Halloween, I was concerned about not having an ending yet. The story was on such a good roll, I didn’t want it to end without some sort of resolution. What was going to happen to Nora next? The suspense was killing me! But then I remembered my notes about the networked book. A brief overview: a networked book is a book written in a networked environment—such as Twitter—and continues to live even after the project has finished. With that in mind, I wasn’t as upset that the story didn’t have a true ending. It leaves us with the chance to build onto it next Halloween. To be continued…

The writing center is planning on having community stories written on Twitter each month that will be complied and published on the writing center blog. Everyone who contributes will be listed as an author. Each month will have a different theme and we hope to extend beyond the university and get other schools involved from the area, state, and country. Keep an eye out for information about our upcoming November and December stories.

I would also like to give a special thanks to everyone who was involved! Without you, this would not have been possible.

The Breakdown

  • Total original tweets using the #UMFlintBoo hashtag: 79
  • Retweets: 18
  • Total: 97