Twitterature – how to write a novel in 140 characters

A while ago, I mentioned the Guardian’s requests to various novelists to write a novel as a Tweet. I believe I called it Twitfic, but it’s also known as Twitterature and my friend Sally Allen has some great pointers on how to do it yourself. If you can manage it, it’s a great way to get your skill as a writer showcased on Twitter. Sally is the editor/owner of Hamlet Hub Westport, a local online newspaper/magazine, and writes a regular Tuesday column about books. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Here’s the beginning of her piece:

Photo by Anthony Karge

Every sentence tells a micro-story. We have an actor (the subject) who does something (the verb) and then consequences ensue (all the other stuff, like objects and direct objects and all kinds of phrases and clauses). We can be spare in our telling (“Run!”) or embellish the story with details (“As the tornado bore down on us with alarming speed, Bonnie hollered, “Run!”).

This is how I explained the structure of the English sentence to my English-as-a-second-language students back when I was a graduate writing instructor. I thought I was a grammar geek, the kind of grammar geek who finds sentence diagramming relaxing, but my students put me to shame with their awe-inspiring ability to recite the rules of English grammar. I mean, their textbook knowledge was impeccable. So I was rather surprised to discover that knowing the rules did not mean they could implement them (I was young and foolish, I suppose).

To address this, my students and I took things vertical, making lists of all the people, places, and things that could do something (potential subjects), lists of all the actions they might take (potential verbs), lists of everything else going on in that moment (the other stuff). From there, we would painstakingly construct sentences simple and complex (and sometimes compound-complex).

And this was also how we began to think of every sentence as telling a story, with a beginning, middle, and end, and even, possibly, an Aristotelian dramatic arc.

This, by the way, was all before Twitter existed. But Twitter would have been an interesting case study for the study of the sentence—140 characters to do and say something interesting? Quite the fun challenge!

Just about anything you can dream of has a Twitter handle—Salman Rushdie’s tree, Paul Ryan’s bicep, a llama in Easton, cats and dogs all across the country, more inanimate objects that I can possibly account for here.

But for book lovers, the social media site is also exploding with literary diversions. Oh, and also? “Twitterature” is a thing.

So here are 4 ways for book lovers to geek out, literature style, on Twitter:

Read on here

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One thought on “Twitterature – how to write a novel in 140 characters

  1. Pingback: ‘ Mahatma Gandhi would have embraced #twitter « kracktivist

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