What Twitter has Taught Me About Fiction
Some of you are already following me on Twitter (@adgansky), and I thank you for that. Hopefully, you’re enjoying my story Leaving Tennessee. It’s an old story that I’ve reworked no less than five times. Though, in reality, I’ve probably revised it about thirty times. I’ve long considered it one of my stronger works.
But going back to it after two years of having it in my digital desk drawer, I’m realizing I’ve still made some mistakes. Strangely enough, Twitter is helping me fix these.
If you don’t already know, Twitter limits each “tweet” to 140 characters. Yes, that includes spaces. What that means for me is that each sentence should be less than 140 characters long. While this is not a widely agreed upon rule in fiction, it is one that seems to work. Longer sentences are not bad, occasionally, especially if you’re writing complex theological rationalization—but then, that’s not always fiction, unless your character is a conflicted theologian.
To an extent, Caleb, the protagonist of Leaving Tennessee, is. But each time I have a post of longer than 140 characters, Twitter yells at me.
And that’s okay. It forces me to go back, to hunt for needless words. To gently assassinate every prolixity that befuddles my prose. I keep my guide of Sneaky Prose Killers open, and make sure to review those as much as possible. It’s super helpful.
I know of several people who refuse to join Twitter because it’s too restrictive. But sometimes those restrictions can really help us refocus our attentions on the efficiency of our prose.
Give it a shot some time. And if you do, let me know. I’d love to follow along.