Writing Twitter fiction is challenging and fun, like solving a sudoku puzzle. Like sudoku, the rules are simple and somewhat arbitrary. Twitter fiction stories are told in 140 characters or less. Why 140 characters? Because that’s the limit for one tweet. This rule wasn’t invented to tease writers, and maybe that’s why I don’t resent it. I have set writing challenges for myself before: write 500 words every morning before breakfast, write a story in the future tense, write from the point of view of an animal. Something about this feels off, like a school dance organised by nuns. Twitter fiction presents a natural challenge. It is also more social than most writing activity. Sociability is built in. You tweet the story to your followers and using a hashtag like #TwitterFiction brings it to a wider audience. It quickly slides out of view, bumped down the list by newer stories, but its short lifespan feels oddly appropriate. At work or driving home I find myself mulling over sentences and counting how many characters are in “desolate” and is there a shorter word. In that sense Twitter fiction is the best writing exercise I’ve ever done. It’s in my head. I’m having fun, but I’m also making the kinds of choices that apply to longer formats too. It makes me confront the question, “what am I really trying to say?” The answer is sometimes “I don’t know, it just sounds pretty.” But in Twitter fiction there is no room for “just pretty”. Every character counts.
Images ©2017 Egging-Baudry