An interesting project kicked off on Twitter, Facebook and other online properties today as Penguin and Specsavers joined forces for #youdunnit, a crowd-sourcing project which will result in published novellists aggregating the ideas of social media punters to write mystery novellas.
During this afternoon dozens of crime fiction fans have been on Specsavers' twitter account offering their ideas on the nature of the crime - murder, kidnapping, missing person - the location and a clue found at the scene. On Tuesday 17th the project will move on to discussing the nature of the crime-solving hero of the novel. (My vote is for a pork pie hat-wearing, hose-wielding, alcoholic former detective in a cadillac - he's never let me down yet).
Ther best of the ideas will be chosen and handed on to "three outstanding writing talents", according to the press release: Tim Weaver, Nicci French and debutant novellist Alistair Gunn. Their work will then be published as an eBook in October.
Crime fiction writers and their publishers have been exemplary in the use of social media to interact with their legion of fans online and this is another resourceful use of the media to engage. Specsavers, which is a strong supporter of the genre with its televised Crime Thriller Book Club starting this month on ITV3 as well its annual awards ceremony, commented on Twitter that its involvement was because: "Many first notice vision problems when reading, so we're creating the 1st UK Twitter crime thriller with @PenguinUKbooks #Youdunnit."
With such strong writers involved it seems highly likely the end product will be good. Certainly the online response today has been very good with tweeters highly engaged in defining the plot details. And Specsavers investment is already paying off as the new tweets are burying all recent criticism of their service!