Social Media Narrative:
Issues in Contemporary Practice

hosted by The Rutgers Camden Digital Studies Center
and Judy Malloy and
the Rutgers Camden DSC Class in
Social Media Narrative: Lineage and Contemporary Practice

Facebook, November 16 - 21, 2016

Chindu Sreedharan
Epic Retold

Chindu Sreedharan is the programme leader for MA Media and Communication at the School of Journalism, English and Communication, Bournemouth University, UK. He holds a PhD in crisis reporting, and is also interested in literary journalism and social media. Recent projects include Aftershock Nepal), which chronicles the life of earthquake survivors in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake; and TIWIS a collection of "social stories" that aims to demystify student life in Britain. A former journalist, Chindu is an experimental storyteller interested in digital narratives, particularly on stories on social media. He keeps an eye out for up-and-coming social platforms, and while his current interests are 360-degree stories and multimodality on Steller, he is best known for Epic Retold, an experimental novel written on Twitter.

The project (@epicretold), which began on July 29, 2009, is a retelling of the Indian epic Mahabharata, a "distributed narrative" that lasted 1605 days. Epic Retold has also been published in a print book form by Harper Collins India.

Epic Retold: Story of a Twitterfiction

Once again, hello! Here are a few interesting things about Epic Retold that I have never told anyone (well, not really):

The first tweets that I drafted were total rubbish, but I thought they were cool. It took two kind friends to put me straight. Luckily, they stopped me before I went live.

A crucial aspect of making a story work is the 'attitude' (which goes beyond mere 'voice') of the protagonist. This is even more crucial in #Twitterfiction, where you have more demanding audiences. I found first-person telling the most effective to capture this on Twitter.

When I started ER in 2009, I had every intention of finishing it within a few months. It took me a few years.

I thought the 140-character limit would be limiting. I actually found it liberating.

I think of the Mahabharata as an anti-war story.

I think of ER an anti-war story, for which I draw from the principles of Peace Journalism and similar.

I struggled writing the love scenes. I also struggled writing the killings at Kurukshetra.

But I had great fun drawing in Marshall McLuhan into the fray and have Krishna say, when Ghatotkacha is killed: "Any advanced weapon is indistinguishable from magic to many!"

I had tears in my eyes when I killed Ghatotkacha.

ER was written on an iPhone, iPad, and Mac; at home, at work, between lectures, at dinner, at airports, in airplanes, on buses, in cars... but much of it was written in a Subway in Landsdowne , Bournemouth.

I saw the bearded face of Hemingway when I struggled with the dialogue in ER.

I heard the French of Genette when I struggled with scenes I couldn't decide on whether to write 'long or short'.

I loved getting Drishtadyumna to say: 'War is ugly. There has never been one without treachery. There never will be.'

I had O Henry in mind when I wrote the last chapter. I had a fair idea how I would end ER, but I figured out the twist only towards the very end.

I struggled a lot with the battle between Arjuna and Karna, but now it is one of the bits I like most. Which is your favourite part in ER?

One of my favourite characters is Hidimbi. Who is yours?

And here's a link if you would like to read a bit of ER:

The Epic_Retold Conversation
on Social Media Narrative: Issues in Contemporary Practice

Panel Participants

Judith Adele
(Ada Radius)
- Avatar Repertory Theater

James J. Brown, Jr.
Social Media Harassment

Jay Bushman
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Robert Emmons

Joy Garnett

Dene Grigar
The 24-Hr. Micro-Elit Project

Matt Held
Facebook Paintings

Antoinette LaFarge
Mixed Reality Performance

Deena Larsen
Marble Springs Wiki

Mark Marino

Cathy Marshall
Who owns social media content?

Chris Rodley
The Magic Realism Bot

Chindu Sreedharan

Katrin Tiidenberg
Identity on Tumblr

Marco Williams
The Migrant Trail

Rob Wittig - Netprov

Alice Wong

Rutgers Camden DSC
Class in Social Media Narrative

Judy Malloy