Is it possible to say something profound, to create something beautiful or essential, 140 characters at a time? Of course it is! No it isn’t!
Oops, that’s already 141 characters.
Clearly, the writers in the first-ever Twitter Fiction Festival don't have an easy task. The virtual literary gathering, brought to you by Twitter, begins today. The writers come from 20 countries and were chosen by a committee “composed of experts from around the publishing industry in the U.S.,” according to the official launch page.
The U.K. site Publishing Talk says writer Lucy Coats is scheduled to kick off the proceedings Wednesday morning in London, with a first tweet read on BBC Radio 4. She is going to retell a Greek myth in 100 tweets.
“I hope the first Twitter Fiction Festival will encourage many other writers to experiment with something new,” Coats told Publishing Talk. “Telling stories in 140 characters has proved an intellectual challenge for me, as well as stretching my writing skills….”
Actually, I think that “squeezing” rather than “stretching” is the proper analogy, Ms. Coats.
On the other hand, the Twitter festival will, in fact, stretch around the globe. Down in the Southern Hemisphere, HarperCollins Australia is presenting “Around the World in 80 Hours,” a series of tweets written by authors Nikki Gemmell and Greg Barron that will be “a globe-trotting, media-mixing, collaborative story of intrigue.”
A few Twitter-related literary gatherings are planned during the festival, including a live event at the New York Public Library.
The writer Elliott Holt will kick off the proceedings in the U.S., with a crime story told from three different perspectives.
“This is an experiment,” she wrote on her own Twitter feed. “Let’s see if this works.”
And since "brevity is the soul of wit," as some bald guy once wrote, I'll close this post with one final, tweet-sized observation:
Fiction doesn't have to be long to be good, I think. But it's better when a writer has room to dance. 140 characters? That's a tightrope.