Sunday, 31 January 2016

Twitter Fiction

The printing press was a bad idea.  Self-publishing was a bad idea.  E-Books are going to be the death of books, and now cellphones or tablets are squashing out both.  Writers are now either getting on the Twitter Train, or condemning it.  Twitter Fiction seems to be another process of story-evolution.  It’s happening.  It doesn’t mean that literature and writing is a dying art, it just means that it is changing.  There are entire website dedicated to twitter fiction.  There is even an annual Twitter Fiction Festival.   

“The concept of Twitter fiction may seem superficial to many because it can literally be done by anyone and, quite frankly, it goes against the established realms of highbrow literary art that dominate most lauded magazines.” (Santully, n.d.)  Santully then points out that the time invested in writers and readers in Twitter Fiction vs. full stories evens out.  It could take about fifteen minutes to write a twitter fiction story, and thirty seconds to read it.  Whereas it takes much longer to write and then read full stories.  Santully also notes that as he was getting started as an author, and on Twitter, he found that submitting Twitter Stories actually promoted stronger feedback from editors, with more detail, because they can easily pinpoint what they do and do not like, or their thoughts on the piece.

The youth of today are programmed to share stories and thoughts in 140 characters or less.  They adapt to saying as much as possible with very little space, in the hopes of validations through favourites and retweets.  Many magazines looking for short stories prefer submissions of 1,500 words or less (Santully, n.d.).  I can’t tell if the medium is influencing the message, or the message is influencing the medium, but the way to deliver stories is evolving, and people are evolving with it.  Melissa Terras, a Digital Humanities professor calls it a different type of art form, with a different experience and new constraints (Goldhill, 2015).

Favourites like choose your own adventures are even going from books, to online websites, to Twitter.  One author has created an online choose your own adventure on Twitter, with many possible outcomes, combined with links to websites.  He states that there are thousands of interactions with fans.

The interview with the author is in the first 8-9 minutes.  If the video is not showing up, a link to the interview is here.

Authors can also use Twitter Fiction to not only help them get published with a full story, but to promote upcoming book releases, like author David Mitchell did with his piece of Twitter Fiction.

Author Robert Swartwood says (Crum, 2015) that a story should do four things:

1.       Tell a story
2.       Be entertaining
3.       Be thought provoking
4.       Invoke an emotional response

If a story can do that in a few tweets of 140 characters (or even less than that, such as ‘Six Word Stories’ examples can be found here) why should it matter?  It forces authors to expanding their writing skills, reevaluate how to deliver something creative and creates very concise forms of writing.  

I still prefer print and ebooks, twitter stories end far too soon for my liking, but I could see how it would be easy to get lost in a website that hosts twitter stories, and comb through dozens of them in one sitting.  


274: Twitter fiction, designing a grief app, the dangers of digital metaphor and more(2015) Available at: 

Crum, M. (2015) Here’s how you write A short story on Twitter. Available at:

Goldhill, O. (2015) Is Twitter fiction the new literary genre?  Available at:

Santulli, A. (n.d.). Consider Twitter fiction. Available at:

 Six word stories. Available at:

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