Twitter Fiction

Twitter fiction is the direct descendent of the cell phone novel, which got its start in Japan. In 2007, five of the best-selling Japanese novels were text (as in “with your thumbs”) novels. You can read recent ones at Text Novel.

Writers in the West haven’t been so successful. Some attempt Twitter novels, but so far most folks give up before they finish. The authors who succeed in completing their “books,” have yet to succeed in mainstreaming them. Twitter Fiction Reader curates some of the completed ones.

I’m interested in Twitter fiction because I like the weight of words and with 140 characters a pop, each word weighs a ton. For example, Twitter novels are also called “twovels,” but what a dumb-sounding name. Thankfully, @twovel has commandeered it for the purpose of shrinking masterpieces into 140-character Cliff Notes.

Instead, how about we call them “witters“? (Boom. New hashtag: #witter. Go!)

Write Your Own Witter

Here are Brandon J. Mendelson‘s tips for writing a witter. He’s the author of The Falcon Can Hear The Falconer (a Twitter Novel).

  1. Advance the story with every tweet. If it the plot doesn’t move, cut the tweet.
  2. No more than five tweets/day. Don’t tax your followers.
  3. Write on a scaffold. It’s flexible. Don’t attempt to condense a manuscript into tweets.
  4. Tweet events in real time (night events at night).
  5. Feed to a website where new followers can catch up with the story.

I would add: Hashtag # relevant bits, but don’t clutter the tweets so they cannot be read.

Rochelle Hurt, author of a novel in prose poems, The Rusted City (White Pine, 2014), notes the following:

“The narrative is found between the words, in what the details imply. . . . Implication is a key element in all flash forms, because with such limited space, writers must rely heavily on reader inference in order for their short-short pieces to work. This active engagement with the reader is part of what makes flash forms so punchy.”