Writing, especially writing fiction, is hard. Past teachers and professors told me that, and I used to tell that to my students. And I’m only talking about the old-fashioned kind: staring off into space for hours as you curse your inability to come up with an idea for a story, having a half-baked idea actually come to you and then spending the next few hours scribbling or typing furiously in the hopes this idea is the start of a brilliant story, and finally rereading said scribblings and then crumpling up your notes/chucking your laptop as you come to a dead end and realize your idea was crap. Repeat approximately 12 times until you finally write a halfway-passable story. And even upon rereading it later, you still think it’s crap.
Yes, traditional fiction writing is hard enough. Now imagine trying to write fiction online, in real time, in replies to requests from your audience — all in 140-character sentences.
This is the idea behind the Twitter Fiction Festival, which kicks off today and runs for the next five days. The festival features creative experiments in storytelling from authors around the world, all using the hashtag #twitterfiction to tell their stories. Participants in the festival include two dozen authors (chosen by a panel of American publishers), who will be tweeting fiction in different languages.
There will be a live event on Saturday at the New
York Public Library to wrap up the Twitter Fiction Festival, which will feature several authors who participated in the festival.
It’s certainly an interesting experiment, and if you can stand reading fiction three 140-character lines at a time, backwards, you should check it out here. It’s sort of fun to see the fourth wall removed, in a sense, as authors ask readers what they’d like to read, and as readers suggest ideas and topics to their beloved authors.
Is writing a story a few lines at a time the future of fiction? After all, this Twitter Fiction Festival is not the first time a full short story has been tweeted. But I doubt this format of storytelling will replace the traditional reading experience. Twitter is all about immediate responses and dialogue, so there are always new tweets popping up. When I’m reading a short story or a novel, I want to be able to zone out and read completely without interruption. A live feed is very distracting, and takes you out of the story — which is certainly not what authors want for their readers, either.
But maybe I’m just old-fashioned? What do you think, readers? Sound off in the comments below, or tweet at me (what a hypocrite), @Technapex or @ce_doyle.