Clearly, this is something I do rather often. Still awesome, though.
If you’d like to do so yourself, here’s what I’ve learned (mainly by doing the opposite):
1. Readers need to clearly understand what’s happening – no matter how tiny the “chapters”.
2. Readers need to be emotionally involved (no matter how tiny the “chapters”).
3. Don’t have more than about three updates per day – it’s annoying.
4. If you use an account for stories, you probably can’t use it for anything else (too much explaining, too little space).
5. Be extremely careful what you say – even in the context of the story. Tweets can easily be misinterpreted, and they can’t be erased.
6. Twitter doesn’t have paragraphs, so dialogue needs very clear labels.
7. Use short names. Every letter counts. (First person narrative also saves space.)
8. Humour and action work better than anything else. Twitter’s one advantage is that you can tell a story in real time.
9. Use your own name wherever possible (including urls).
10. Don’t have an underscore at the end of your twitter name – computers can’t handle it.
11. Link your twitter account to a website for readers who want to know more. On mine I post the story so far each Friday, and the full story (in chronological order, with paragraphs) when it’s complete.
#11 is interesting because I’ve discovered that very few people actually read the entire tale – they enjoy the occasional dip into it, and that’s all. Which is great, because my aim is to be known as a writer, and that’s working. Plus it makes life slightly more absurd knowing that a few hundred people will be thinking, “Oh no! The pirates are attacking and I can’t remember why” or, “That was sweet how he got together with whatserface.”
I spent every spare moment in December editing a novel for the Terry Pratchett contest, which meant I was desperately scrabbling to write this month’s tale (Zeppelin Jack and the Black Diamond) from day to day. Today, I finally got ahead of the game.
Twitter tales are HARD to write. It’s not a good form for world-building, characterisation, or plot twists. But it IS good for a bit of fun (especially fanfic, oddly), and a surprisingly wide audience. I’ve been writing them constantly since August 2009, and it’s not easy to sustain the odd cast of mind required to squeeze a tale into such small spaces.
I post them on facebook too, at “Louise Curtis Books”.
It’s slightly disturbing that, with around 2500 followers in various places, my twittertales have more readers than anything else I’ve done. They’ve also garnered several radio and newspaper interviews, so I’m cautiously optimistic that they’ll fulfil their ultimate purpose (which is to make me familiar to readers, so they buy my books).
If you’re interested in writing a guest twittertale, I’ll almost certainly say yes to anything G/PG in the specfic and/or humour genres. Leave a comment or email me at fellissimo at hotmail dot com.
Here’s the $2400 ring that inspired this particular story (I’m going to sell it at half price, if any of you are interested in that kind of thing – same email address as above).