You know you've got that book in you, just struggling to get out to see the light of day. You're aware there are more opportunities available to you today than in the past. You take a deep sigh of relief knowing you no longer have to endure that continuous stream of rejection notices from traditional publishers. But...your confidence may need a bit of a boost. Before you put your book out there, maybe you want to test the waters with Twitter fiction?
So What's Holding You Back?
Say, what...Twitter fiction? Yes, the world's favorite microblogging site, Twitter. You know, that social network that's been a soapbox for folks from all walks of life—the likes of politicians, revolutionaries, celebrities, business execs, nerds, gurus, religious leaders, and even our school-age children.
But, It's Only 280 Characters?
Yes, that's right, a tweet in and of itself would be the shortest short story ever told. How could you possibly create characters, a story arc, crisis, denouement, climax, and conclusion with so few words? Those bon mots would have to be mighty powerful to tell your tale so succinctly. Well, today, we'll explore the world of Twitter Fiction and how authors and events have embraced not only the platform as a writing option but have also been successful in expanding the boundaries of Twittersphere.
Is Haiku for You?
Writing in short bursts has had a long history. The delivery of a poem, sentiment or slogan in 17 syllables is the tradition called haiku and is a perfect fit for a tweet. However, while originated by the Japanese centuries ago, English authors have also been writing in haiku long before the idea of Twitter spilled onto Jack Dorsey's napkin. In 1914, Ezra Pound used the haiku format for his famous 14-word-17-syllable poem, In a Station of the Metro:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd: / Petals on a wet, black bough.
Many writers gravitate toward this type of composition due to its economy, it's chiseled syntax and its juxtapositions of imagery. Like the venerable bard, Shakespeare once enlightened us, saying things with the least of amount of words more often than naught holds the most weight. So, is it any wonder that Twitter captured the world's zeitgeist in less than a decade?
Twitter Fiction Festivals
If you think Twitter's maximum allotment of 280 characters is constraining, try reducing your narrative to only six words. The second 'Six-Word Festival on Twitter' concluded on June 6th where short virtual storytelling was the focus. So immediately popular, it was able to sign up celebrity judges, the likes of Maria Shriver, Molly Ringwald, Jason Biggs and Star Trek's "Sulu" and social media superstar George Takei.
Involvement in this festival allotted participants the opportunity to have their tweets added to the organization's latest book titled Six Words of Advice from Writers Famous & Obscure, coming out in 2015 from St. Martin's Press.
The payoff for writers is exposure to new audiences and book buyers. While some might be hesitant about including a chapter from one of their saleable books in a series of tweets, others have seen a significant increase in followers.
For those who are still skeptical about using a microblogging platform to promote their work, you might want to consider taking the lead from accomplished authors who see the value in this type of social experiment. While it wouldn't seem that an author like the mastermind behind the acclaimed novels, Cloud Atlas and number9dream would even contemplate using Twitter for this purpose, just this past week, David Mitchell opted to publish his short story, The Right Sort in 280 tweets.
And he isn't the first to leverage the power of Twitter. Goosebumps author R.L. Stine in 2012 penned a short 9-tweet horror story, followed by another Halloween tale delivered in 13 tweets.
If you are leery about your writing abilities, it opens the door to an audience of followers that can start providing you with feedback and constructive criticism. For those who are little more seasoned, it provides you with another promotional opportunity in real-time to get your work in front of new readers who may consider purchasing your other work. And for those authors who are also savvy marketers, it's a platform that permits you to incentivize prospective buyers with discounts and contests. Transitioning readers into becoming engaged advocates of your work is a slow process, but Twitter is a viable marketplace to kick-start those type of convos.
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