Well, technically it’s not a week yet, but I thought I would set Saturday (my time) to be the day I post an update each week on my project of writing a story on Twitter.
And so far, the process has been very interesting and enlightening! Interesting because I have had to take a very different process from what I normally do when writing fiction, and planning the basic story up front:
You’ll note that I redacted vast tracts of my notes, no point in giving spoilers before the story has been either written or read! I don’t generally do even this level of planning as often the story becomes apparent to me at the same time as it does to my characters. It means that I have to go back and edit for consistency and sequencing when I have laid the whole story out.
With this approach, this isn’t possible. It really is a case of one draft, end to end. Each paragraph has to be written, checked and double checked before posting to Twitter as there’s no going back and fixing it later.
Another part of the “interesting” aspect of writing like this is that each story segment/tweet has to be engaging in itself, and has a hard character limit on it of 240 characters, less with hashtags. that’s not a lot of space to capture a reader who happens across a single tweet of the whole story. However, someone should still be interested in each tweet, even if they don’t necessarily have the context of the whole story.
One of my concerns was that the writing would appear choppy when writing with this constraint; paragraphs can only be roughly 220 characters long, so roughly 40 words or thereabouts. Fortunately, this didn’t seem to be the case when reading it on the Kindle Previewer app. The paragraphs, while a little samey in length on the first page, aren’t staccato-ish and super short. As the story continues and more dialogue is present, then the paragraphs will start to be a little more varied in length.
Now for the “enlightening” part. I can put my hand on my heart and say that I believe that this exercise will make me a better writer. I have a very nasty tendency to waffle on a bit, which can make my writing a little loose and frequently in the passive voice. When you have a hard limit in which to write a bit of story that needs to be self-contained and engaging, then it’s amazing how fast the unnecessary words tend to evaporate.
At the time of writing this article, I have written 502 words of the story so far. The sixty-four dollar question is, “Do I think this is worthwhile and should I continue?” My answer is “Absolutely!” If I am not writing, then 502 words is an awful lot more than zero words. I also need to remain mindful of the big picture when I can’t go back and change things.
These are positive things about becoming a better, more concise writer and having a story thread that doesn’t lose its way.