Sunday, August 3, 2014


I recently came across a form of writing in which a short story is told through a series of Tweets.

This writing mechanism is a modern day form of serialization, but where the serial story is told almost line-by-line.  While it may appear a bit gimicky, it can be done in a way that it has interesting aspects that distinguish the form from that of a "regular" short story.  This includes the 140-character bit-by-bit pacing, the self-contained nature of each Tweet standing alone, and a uniquely choppy pasting together of the lines into an edgy whole.

So far, I've read two #Twiction short stories.

The first is "Black Box," by Jennifer Egan, which I loved.  It was a hyper-cool female spy story that was compelling, funny, and exemplified how this form can create a different sort of short story.  It can be read in its entirety here. (A review of the piece, written in the same tweet-by-tweet format can be read here.)

Some of my favorite sections of Tweets from Black Box:
  • You are a lovely girl” may be meant straightforwardly.
  • Ditto “I want to fuck you now.”
  • “Well? What do you think about that?” suggests a preference for direct verbal responses over giggling.
  • “I like it” must be uttered with enough gusto to compensate for a lack of declarative color.
  • “You don’t sound sure” indicates insufficient gusto.
  • “I’m not sure” is acceptable only when followed, coyly, with “You’ll have to convince me.
  • Throwing back your head and closing your eyes allows you to give the appearance of sexual readiness while concealing revulsion.
  • You will reflect on the fact that you must return home the same person you were when you left.
  • You will reflect on the fact that you’ve been guaranteed you will not be the same person.
  • You will reflect on the fact that you had stopped being that person even before leaving.
  • You will reflect on the fact that too much reflection is pointless.
  • You will reflect on the fact that these “instructions” are becoming less and less instructive.

The second is "The Right Sort,"by David Mitchell. I found the story itself to be incredible and fascinating. Narrated by a young boy, it begins as a very ordinary tale but morphs into a terrifying dream-like journey that quickens in pace and grows weirder as the story progresses.

It was far less choppy than Egan's piece and drew me in immediately. While perhaps it is a more sophisticated and whole-feeling story, I didn't think it used this form in a way that made it much different from an ordinary short story. It can be read in its entirety here.

One of my favorite sections of Tweets from The Right Sort:
  • We get off the Number 10 bus at a pub called ‘The Fox and Hounds’. ‘If anyone asks,’ Mum tells me, ‘say we came by taxi.’
  • ‘I thought lying was wrong,’ I say. Butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth. Mum gives me a look. ‘It’s called “creating the right impression”.’
  • It’s a grey afternoon. Rain’s forecast for later. Through a front window, I see wrestling on the telly. Mum walks ahead. I follow.
  • I hope to God nobody from school sees me in this tweed jacket and tie Mum bought me from Littlewoods. I look like a total ponce. 
  • If any of Gaz Townshend’s lot catch me dressed like this, life won’t be worth living come Monday. His gang shits on me enough as it is.
  • It’s all very well for Mum to say, ‘You shouldn’t care what people think’: kids have laws and if you break those laws, you’re dead meat

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