I’m a dedicated Twitter user, though not one of those obnoxious types that tweets every second about the scrumptious meal he had or the imminent release of intestinal waste down the toilet. But I enjoy Twitter, and whenever I have (or feel like I have) something significant to announce to the entire world, I painstakingly polish my tweets which often initially exceed the 140 character limit. Trust me when I say it is extremely good practice for writing concisely.
When I first found out about Twitter fiction, or micro fiction, or nanofiction, or flash fiction (though this term traditionally refers to pieces slightly longer), or short short stories, or even Twitter literature (for those who especially take pride in their works), I was intrigued. Telling a full story in a mere 140 characters that shocks, surprises, even moves readers? Was that even possible? I was more than eager to accept this challenge.
Probably the most famous example is the six-word story attributed to Ernest Hemingway:
For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.
It’s eerie and even upsetting, and all in six words. 6 words. Now, this was interesting.
Most of my Twitter fiction works have been formed while trying to sleep. I lie in bed, eyes drooping, and I get struck by inconvenient (but grudgingly welcomed) inspiration. I fumble for my iPhone, type in my password (several attempts if I’m really trailing the border between dreams and reality), open up the memo application, and jot down the story or idea, words or phrases that pop into my mind. The next morning, I spend a good amount of time trimming and rewording it, looking for better ways to convey the story in a manner most striking and impacting and lasting. It usually takes me a couple of days before I finalise and send it off to online magazines specialising in said stories.
The most well-known and prestigious is Nanoism, which apparently has an acceptance rate of 8% (which would explain why my stories have yet to be accepted by them). They publish once a week and have published 607 stories since April 2009. I wrote my first Twitter fiction piece in December 2013 which I was extremely happy with, but it was unfortunately not chosen by Nanoism for publication. I then submitted it to Seven by Twenty (7×20) (look here for submission guidelines), another famous online magazine of Twitter fiction which has released a book of the best from their first two years, and has published weekdaily since July 2009. And to my very pleasant and ecstatic surprise, they kindly informed me that they would like to publish my piece on their website!
And so on 27 January 2014, 7×20 published the following piece by yours truly:
25 words. A complete story. Yes, it was Twitter, but still, it was my first publication in years.
I continued to write more Twitter fiction, struck by inspiration at the most random of times. I found it a brilliant method of creative output especially during my hectic studies since it was short and manageable. Yet it also required flexibility of mind and the willingness to scrap your initial idea and rewrite it completely. In some ways, it was more difficult than writing short stories where you have the luxury of several hundred or thousand words to express your creativity. But with 140 characters, there was only so much you could say. I soon realised the indubitable importance of what is left unspoken in short fiction, allowing readers to form their own conclusions. I have heard multiple interpretations of my stories, many of them different from my original and intended meaning. But that’s precisely the beauty of words.
I’m a huge fan of 7×20 (not simply because they have generously accepted my works) and support them wholeheartedly. There are many other online magazines or journals that publish such fiction or poetry, but Nanoism and 7×20 are the most renowned. So far, 7 of my pieces have been published by 7×20, with 1 winning their inaugural #7x20spring contest. Here are the rest of them:
24 March 2014:
This was the #7x20spring contest winner (7 May 2014):
Some lady in America tweeted me regarding the above story:
‘Congratulations! This piece was my favorite. The ending, to me, meant so many things.’
It is comments and compliments like these that keep me writing.
Last month, 7×20 also featured my stories for an entire week (14-18 July 2014):
I’d love to know which was your favourite! What was your interpretation, how did you personally perceive and react? Post your own Twitter fiction stories, I’d love to read them!