A novel via Twitter?

Well, apparently. Just one of those things I noticed.


I'm always in favor of new kinds of writing being explored, but Darren Rowse said that twitter novels could cross into the mainstream and make money, and I simply don't buy it.

The idea is cute, but I don't think it's reader-friendly enough to get too popular. In particular, the fact that tweets are so short and display newest-first makes it a pain to start a new one with more than a couple dozen posts. Also, the bit about them making money seems a little ridiculous... how would that happen exactly? As far as I know, you can't advertise on your twitter page (nor charge a fee to view it, though that would be an impressively arrogant move) and if you're banking on ads from a site with an embedded twitter box, you would mostly get views from new readers alone--fans would be following the twitter page, not reading the tiny box thing.

That's without even addressing the issue of picking up where you left off in a story you're reading...

I'ma have to predict this one's a no-go. Fun experiment, but I doubt there will be more than one or two notable "successes."

EDIT: okay, so at least he's posting the tweets in descending order on his homepage. Still though, why not just write a webnovel in 1-sentence chapters? I can see arguments for the ease of getting updates, but that's not enough for me.

Sounds tedious to read and write. It's an interesting concept though.

Funnily enough, someone linked me to this a couple months ago. Essentially, a twitter novel service. :P

I don't know that I'd like to use Twitter as my sole method of telling a story, but I am using it as part of an ongoing storyline.

However, more to the point, my husband and I have flirted with the idea of developing a storytelling platform that allows stories to develop in virtual real time, with real time notifications sent out to subscribers. In essence, each subscriber becomes a participant in the story, and chooses which media he wants delivered to him to further the story.

for example, I sign up to read Story A and indicate that I want to receive story updates on Twitter and email, and the story platform knows to DM me or or email me within, say, 5 hours of my signing up. I might get an email from a character in the story, for example. But the story always begins at the beginnig for each new subscriber--it's the subscriber's real time, not the story's. So whether I sign up on December 15 2008 of February 1, 2009, the order and subject matter of the notifications is always the same.

That's a future pie-in-the-sky plan, though. Right now it would be easier to have readers come into a story the way new viewers come into a soap opera--just allow them to figure out what's happening as it unfolds, but give them as much backstory as they want (via blogs, or articles, Flickr, whatever.)

@amber: your example sounds a bit like a 'game' that the reader plays. Add a little interaction beyond subscribing, and you have forumwarz (or similar). I like such ideas. You have my vote~

@ flak: We talked about adding subtle bits of interactivity into the story. Like, for example, let's say your story takes place in a mental institution. One of the characters finds out the administrator's username and password to read patient profiles. You work in the URL of the login, and drop the username and password in there, too. If your reader is paying close attention, she can follow the URL and enter the username/pw and get some additional backstory on the other patients. She wouldn't miss out on the main story if she didn't do this, but it would be a nice reward for those especially savvy readers.

It does sound rather like a game, doesn't it? I like the idea of taking online fiction somewhere non-standard. I mean, we have a new medium available to us. Why not use it to its fullest potential?

Why not use it to its fullest potential?

My thoughts exactly.

Your example here is a good one, though it could be taken even further potentially. I'm all for such creations :)

i feel like this thread and the collab thread are pretty much becoming the same thing..

I was thinking instead of writing a short story that was entirely a Twitter discussion. After watching how the events of the RNC protest unfolded for people tweeting from the front lines (pepper spray, people screaming, aftermath.) I've wondered how using that as a vehicle for telling a story might work out.

It is a different frame than usual, and it makes the situation tense and weird, especially because the reader can flick their eyes ahead.

It would definitely be a cool sort of gonzo journalism tool, like if you had a qwerty-keyboard phone and could post them really fast. that would be kinda cool.

I was considering this a few days ago, but there's a lot of problems with it - including the fact that most my sentences are longer than a tweet. It would bother me some to have sentences split up too much. It is an interesting idea, though I'm not sure how people would make money off it... since most Twitter users (myself included) get messages delivered to them somehow. (In my case, Digsby gives them to me).

You know what I keep thinking, every time I've seen the Twitter-novel idea? I keep thinking "Ernest Hemingway could sure as heck do it."

He was pretty brief anyway.

I think you could tell a short story through Twitter, although it wouldn't be shaped like a traditional short story (more like a story-poem, really). It might be interesting. You could get a really interesting, potentially powerful rhythm going with the shape of the sentences.

I can't imagine doing it. But I bet someone will, someday.

Well, Othar on Twitter is sort of telling an ongoing story. (He's a character from the Girl Genius comics by Phil and Kaja Foglio.) I think it would be just as impossible to follow if you'd started at the beginning as it is starting somewhere in the middle... but it's entertaining!

I contemplated doing this for a bit of fun, but am not sure whether Twitter is big enough to contain his lordship and his hugely over-sized...ego.

Well, THAT could be the plot problem right there. The cursed Twitter is TOO SMALL. And so he Twitters about it.