Six to Start

We Tell Stories for Penguin Books

Six Authors. Six Stories. Six Weeks. A groundbreaking experiment in digital storytelling, designed by Six to Start for Penguin Books.

In We Tell Stories, we worked with Penguin’s top authors, from Booker-shortlisted Mohsin Hamid, popular teen fiction author Kevin Brooks, prize-winning Naomi Alderman and bestselling thriller authors Nicci French, to create six stories that could told only on the Internet.

The Numbers

  • 400,000+ readers
  • Nearly 2000 blog posts
  • Massive positive press coverage, with feature articles in Newsweek, BBC News, LA Times, The Daily Telegraph, Wired, and BoingBoing
  • With zero above-the-line advertising or marketing, We Tell Stories spread purely through word of mouth.

About the Stories

Each of the six stories took advantage of the power of the internet in a unique way:

  • The 21 Steps, a thriller by Charles Cumming, uses Google Maps to show readers the movements of a desperate man caught up in a mysterious conspiracy.
  • Slice, a horror story by Toby Litt, took place over two blogs and Twitter feeds and allowed readers to become part of a family’s slow descent into madness.
  • Fairytale, by Kevin Brooks, gives young readers the chance to tell their own fairytale story and share it with their friends – and if they don’t like the ending, they can write their own!
  • Your Place and Mine, by husband and wife duo Nicci French, was written and told live. For an hour a day, for five days, readers could watch the story appear in front of their eyes and chat about it with friends.
  • Hard Times, an ‘infographic story’ by author Matt Mason and designer Nicholas Felton, examines the effects of the internet on the world, through beautifully sharp infographics.
  • The (Former) General in his Labyrinth, a rich and complex story by Mohsin Hamid, uses an entirely new form of branching storytelling to allow readers to explore the memories of an ageing, and not quite fictional, general.
  • Alice in Storyland was a seventh, hidden story written by Naomi Alderman. Taking place over websites, emails, text messages, live events, Alice in Storyland brought readers directly into the story where they could help the characters and even influence the plot.

More about We Tell Stories

At Six to Start, we’ve written and spoken about the creation of We Tell Stories: