(Note: Heads up, Middle-Schoolers. Isn't the Sixth Annual Writing Contest coming up soon? Save this column!)
In the last column, I promised that this week would be something different and something fun. Let's start with a couple of stories.
Your Pain Will Set You Free
He sat in the car, waves crashing over the frozen railing. If she was home, he didn't want to see her leave. He'd drive permanently south.
'X' Marks The Spot
We had dug twelve holes before we realized the map was wrong. How to dispose of the shovels before mom used them on us was now the question.
* * *
If I asked you to name a literary form that is tiny, elegant, and defined by a very strict numeric structure, you might say haiku, that Japanese poetic form, which is centuries old.
But if I required that the literary form be new and rapidly gaining in popularity, you would have to say Twitterstory.
Like the examples above, a Twitterstory is limited to 140 characters, the size of a Tweet on the popular social media site, Twitter. Can one really tell a story in 140 characters?
Certainly, a lot must be implied. But look at the examples above. We imagine the passage of time and see the heightening drama. We even know something of the characters involved. And what's most important, we feel their emotion.
* * *
I interviewed Darren Cormier, whose book of Twitter stories, A Little Soul, is available on Amazon, with autographed copies available locally at It's a Mystery Bookstore.
Me: Why do you think Twitter fiction is becoming so popular?
Cormier: It's common to say we're losing our attention spans. That might be partially true, but I think Twitter fiction is popular because the premise of Twitter (140 characters or less) is accessible. Our lives are becoming busier, and technology and devices are becoming more and more pervasive. But there is still a need and a desire for fiction and for stories.
Me: What are the best websites for Twitter fiction?
Cormier: One Forty Fiction, Nanoism, Seedpod Publishing, escarp. Many literary websites accept Twitter fiction but don't specialize in it.
Me: Do you know of other books of Twitter fiction besides your own?
Cormier: I only know of one. Sean Hill's Very Short Stories: 300 Bite-Sized Works of Fiction.
* * *
Now since the purpose of this column is to encourage local writers to get writing, you may wonder why I've gone down this Twitterstory rabbit hole. Here's why:
Writing Twitter stories provides excellent practice in two areas.
1. It forces you to be succinct. Southern speakers use many extra words. If you don't believe me, write down what you say and then see how many words you can cut out and still have the same meaning. I once wrote what I thought was a beautiful first sentence to my novel. My friend cut out eleven words. Whether in poetry, fiction or nonfiction, every word must be on trial for its life. If every word is the best word for its job, then we don't need a bunch of extras. Extra words are boring. One plus one equals half.
2. Seeing life as a continual series of Twitter stories makes us think deeply, think like writers. We see the tips of the icebergs of emotion.
Here's one of my favorites stories by Lauri Griffin, published on the One Forty Fiction website:
Moving In and Moving On
He dropped the last box onto the dorm room floor, and watched his parents drive away. He'd never belong in just one place, ever again.
And by a local writer:
She took off her ring when he took off his. He wears his now, but hers is lost.
I think that's 79 characters, but it speaks volumes about these people, their lives, their pain.
* * *
So give Twitter stories a try. We might see your story on one of the websites mentioned above. We might even have a local contest for adults. Why should kids have all the fun?
Next Time: Skill lesson for fiction and memoir. How to write dialogue that rocks.