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A Twit’s Guide To Twitter

Some people believe absolutely the likes of Twitter are a WASTE OF TIME – it’s mere procrastination, indulgence, maybe even a bit unhealthy… And certainly if I was tweeting what my kids had for breakfast and the colour of their resulting bowel movements I’d agree.

But like anything, it depends what you use it for. And though Twitter has meant a decline in quality “full-length” (oo er) blogging, it has OPENED UP THE FLOOR for all writers and those interested in writing, filmmaking and beyond, at ALL stages of their career.

So if you’re already there – HELLO!!! – please follow me.

If you’re NOT on Twitter however – and don’t know where to start – then, as requested by various people, here’s your Twit’s Guide to Twitter.


1) Sign Up. Go to www.twitter,com and register. If you’ve done Facebook, it’ll be easy. If you haven’t, it’s not still that hard.

2) Pick a username. I’d recommend a username that’s NOT that long: something punchy is good, or can be your real name. No one minds what you call yourself though something like @JISMMONKEY or @ISUCKCOCKSINHELL probably won’t get you the *kind* of friends that will help you WRITE (unless you write porno, of course).

2) Add detail. Fill in as much detail as you can and I’d recommend a picture of *some sort* – whilst Twitter recommends a “real” pic, there’s plenty of Tweeps* there, like me, who don’t. But if you don’t have a picture of any kind, other people might think you’re a spammer. There are various layouts you can choose too, or you can upload your own.

3) Say what? So now… Your first message on Twitter. It’s easy enough – you have 140 characters. Write what you like. Think of it like those status updates in Facebook. Do note: a Twitter message is known as a TWEET, not a Twit. It’s a good idea to write a few tweets before you go for the number 4, again just so other Tweeps know you are a REAL person, not a spammer or a bot.

4) Following. You will now have a profile and a few tweets written. Now you need to FOLLOW people. This is how you get noticed yourself and get others to follow you. If you know people on Twitter with large follow lists, get them to give you a “shout out” – ie. an introduction. So, for example, you could TWEET ME something like:

@Bang2write – hi, I came here via the Twit’s Guide To Twitter! Plz give me a shout-out! Thx

I’ll be happy to do so. Now, target those people you want to follow – find them on Twitter via their blogs, Facebooks, or if you know their email addresses, put it in the “Find People” tool at the top of the Twitter homepage. Again, it’s rather like Facebook in that regard. Alternatively, find someone with a LONG list of followers and follow THEIR followers! That’s how I started.

5) Here’s Lookin’ @ you. Every time you talk to someone on Twitter, you need to put @ in front of their username (or click their Tweet, as it will do it automatically). If someone replies to you, you need to look in your @ box. This is on the right hand side bar about a quarter of the way down your page. Click on it – and all your replies from people will be there. there is also a Direct Message – DM – function on Twitter.

So: the above is all you really need to get going on Twitter. But it’s only half the story, so here is everything I know in glorious technicolour (I’m sure there’s more than this, too) for those who think they can tackle the


6) Retweeting. Often referred to as the RT – “retweet”, which is when you copy & paste someone else’s words, though there is a specific function for this now, all you need to to do is press it and it will do RT it automatically for you. As far as I can see, you can retweet anyone, though it’s poor show to totally alter people’s tweets and/or not credit those who’ve come up with the tweet (so incl. their username). Here is a guide to retweeting. UPDATE: There is also the “MT” now – the “modified tweet”.  Here’s what that means.

7) Tw-what?? There are loads of online amalgams of words with the word “Twitter”, ie. *”Tweeps” is “Peeps” & “Twitter”; you can join a group called a “Twibe” (“Twitter” & “Tribe”), etc. So in other words, if in doubt anything with TW in front of a word relates to something to do with/that is on Twitter. You can find a full run down of Twitter speak here. BTW: txt spk & abbrvn = fine & NE1 who sez it isn’t is a Tw@t.

8) Mobile Go-Go. If you are an IPhone or Blackberry user, there are loads of Twitter-friendly apps for you to download and use directly from your phone, just Google them. But even if you have a phone of the non-fancy variety like me, you can still use the text function of your phone to send tweets directly to Twitter (as long as it’s WAP enabled). Just go to Twitter’s home page to set up this function.

9) Platforms. There are other ways of accessing Twitter from all around the internet without going directly via their website every time. The most popular appears to be Tweet Deck, with Twurl following a close second. I had Twurl for a while but found I could never leave Twitter alone as it delivered every single tweet to my desktop as I was working (and I’m pretty obsessed anyway) so that DID distract me, so I deleted it. But I’m sure plenty of you have more self control than me, so might be worth investigating!

10) #hashtags. Hashtags are for specific topics. So for example, if you want to talk about genre film, you would add the following #genrefilm. Put this in EVERY tweet – this way, other Tweeps can click on that hashtag to see EVERY TWEET in the thread, without people having to click “reply” all the time, which wouldn’t always show up in everyone’s @ box (if they’re not all following each other). Quick and convenient. REMEMBER: Sometimes people use hashtags as a joke – like the pointless #earwig that crops up from time to time. Also, people might try and diffuse potential conflict with them, as in #justsayin or #justaskin. Other times, people might use hashtags to remind people what they were talking about in a previous tweet , ie.

He said I shouldn’t have waited so now I’m really angry #gotstoodup

11) Twibes. These are groups you can create to talk about various topics. I’ve never used one though, so can’t offer much advice. I managed to join the Scriptchat twibe so it must be easy, but now I’ve lost it!

12) Lists. Lists allows you to band your followers into various groups – ie. work, fun, random. I’m way too lazy to bother doing this however. What’s great about this feature is you can piggyback on OTHER people’s lists – I’m currently in 100+ lists, one of which is the delightful @JasonArnopp’s dedicated to “Scriptwriters”. What’s cool about it is I have found other people worth following in HIS list too.


Just type these names (NB. as they appear here BEFORE the italics, no spaces) into Twitter’s “Find People” at the top of the page and click “follow”!!!

Bang2write – yours truly

JulianFriedmann – fabbo agent, he doesn’t have enough to do running Blake Friedmann, get him!

JKAmalou – my main collaborator and all-round top chap

TeenieRussell & TaroJ – Euro Scriptchat moderators

Gibbzer – Andrea Gibbs, screenwriter extraordinaire

HayleyMcKenzie1 – our very own Script Angel

RWWFilm – Brad Johnson of Read Write Watch Film

Laragreenway – Writer. Producer. Director. Wonderwoman.

Robinkelly1 – Robin Kelly of course and UK’s top link bringer

UnkScreenwriter – The Unknown Screenwriter – more fab screenwriting links

mypdfscripts – awesome links to well, PDF scripts!

scriptcollector – has every known script in the universe, including those written by aliens

Scriptchat – *the* place for writers on Sundays

Jeannevb – Jeanne watches over US Scriptchat

ScriptwritingUK- Our very own marvellous Danny stack

Wlmager – likes to kill people… in scripts. Of course.

Splinister – Maura McHugh, my sister in arms

SarahDobbs – former journo and fellow feminist

John_Hunter – he likes all the films I hate, harangue him

Pete_Darby – a very naughty man

SoFluid – that’s Michelle Goode to you and me, I think she’s one of those into porno maybe?

DON’T FORGET: It’s not just people on Twitter… watch out for the Twitter versions of various websites, magazines, charities, pressure groups, other organisations, films, TV shows, etc – most will have them these days, so if you want the latest lowdown on various things, FOLLOW THEM.
Still unconvinced? Have a chew on some of these:


1) Ever have something on the TIP OF YOUR TONGUE – an idea, a word, the name of a TV show, whatever – but you just can’t remember what the hell it is… And you can’t get on with your script until you know? Then TWEET IT and ask!!! 9/10 someone will know what you’re going on about and TELL YOU.

2) Need a recommendation on something – a movie you *should* watch because you’re writing about *this particular concept*? A song that would work well in your short film *about this subject*? You need to find someone who will tell you about *their experience* of a certain subject, time or place – then don’t wait, TWEET IT and ask – let people come to you.

3) Never sure what the *important* scriptwriting/movie-making subjects are? Don’t go wading through copious amounts of magazines and websites, let those headlines, sales figures and “things of the moment” (ie. Josh Olsen, “I will Not Read Your F***ing Script” and its many answers/counter-arguments) come to you as OTHERS TWEET IT.

4) Keep up to date: similarly, keep up to date with what your peers think of certain movies, TV shows and games using #hashtags and take part in SPECIFIC discussions about the subjects you are interested in, in real time, like #scriptchat.

5) Need to tell others of your OWN news – ie. the short you’re making, the pilot of your internet TV series, your first TV drama commission, the film you’re showing at festivals, your new website, your new blog post? Then TWEET IT and let others send on the good news.

6) GET A JOB OR COLLABORATION. That’s right. Jobs and opportunities are posted ALL THE TIME and writers and filmmakers are finding each other on Twitter constantly. Why miss out?

7) Be part of a community: lots of us are writing alone and even those who are part of duos are communicating via phone, fax and email. Twitter is our WATER COOLER. Why deny yourself of the simple human pleasure of communication?

Character Types on Twitter – which are you?

#Scriptchat – focus on feedback

A Twitter Guide to Spec Writing

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8 thoughts on “A Twit’s Guide To Twitter”

  1. I'm still very dubious about the whole social networking thing. Sometimes, having been 'chatting' to someone on Facebook I've met up with them at an event and been practically blanked by them (more interesting people to talk to, perhaps). Other times people get the wrong end of the stick, written communication lacks the tone of the voice, let alone body language. It gives an illusion of friendship whereas real friendships take time and work. Networking stuff is as satisfying as instant coffee. And it can be a horrifying waste of time. Personally I value solitiude and it seems to have become very unfashionable, almost regarded as neurotic, not to want to be linked to as many people as possible and jabbering online all the time. Perhaps it's just me. I've just read "The age of absurdity – why modern life makes it hard to be happy" by Michael Foley, and he has some fascinating things to say about this – see the chapter on transcendence. I'm having a fortnight off Facebook and will see if I am happier and more productive without it.

  2. Wow, that's a depressing look at social networking Helen!!! It's one I've heard before though and I find it sad (as in the real meaning of the word) – social networking has enhanced my life and my work no end, I'm a helluva lot more productive with it and no longer feel isolated by working alone. Whilst it's true an online friend is not the same as a *real* friend, it provides an icebreaker and if you don't get on as well as in "real life" as online, what's wrong with sticking to just online I say… Tho I now have plenty of real friends who I met online first, has to be said. That doesn't have to mean I don't enjoy solitude either. Seems to me there's a mega kneejerk against social networking – it has to be one side OR the other. I don't understand why people can't take the bits that work for them and discard the bits that don't.

  3. Sorry, didn't mean to come across as totally negative. Of course if you're very disciplined I'm sure Twitter and Facebook etc can be useful. But now that every company I buy from emails me exhorting me to follow them, I sometimes feel as if I'm drowing in an ocean of trivial chatter. I only signed up to Facebook initially because the screenwriters' conference I was attending had a group and was using it to post info etc. Now the friends I have on there are an odd mix of social contacts, writers I know slightly, distant (but not close) friends – and I feel that the type of communication ought to be different for each of them. It's somehow one size fits all on these things. Interestingly none of my really close personal friends are on there and I speak to them on the phone as we now live so far apart.

  4. Thanks Lucy. Sadly we closed after 9 years and 900 articles, but BFLA is very full time plus hobbies (gardening, astronomy) and three grandchildren keeps me off the streets, as does getting into transmedia.

  5. Hi Lucy
    I tweet as @37filmsltd being the company name behind our “Elvis Prestwick” short film. Please check the facebook page out! Tweeting is fun and surprising – I just had an exchange of tweets about David Bowie with *the* Nile Rodgers, so get me!

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