4 times a year, 7×20 holds a competition for season-themed Twitter fiction and poetry. Previously, I had won the #7x20spring competition with the following (receiving the most votes, aka number of likes and retweets):
I submitted the following to the #7x20summer competition in September and narrowly missed out (runner-up). 7×20 published it yesterday:
And most recently, I submitted the following to the #7x20fall competition in November, which unfortunately didn’t receive enough submissions to make it to the voting round. Nevertheless, 7×20 kindly published it today:
Writing Twitter fiction is difficult and requires a lot more effort than you might think. Being limited by 140 characters doesn’t give you the luxury of using several hundred or thousand words (short stories and the like) to express freely your creativity. Each word must be chosen painstakingly. Even the seemingly minute difference between ‘a’ and ‘the’ can change the nuances contained within the story and affect how it comes across to readers.
But of course, the beauty of Twitter fiction is just like any form of literature—and arguably more so because of its emphasis on the unspoken more than the spoken—it is open to multiple forms of interpretations. Read them as you will!
You might have noticed that all 3 Twitter fiction stories above are quite depressing. In fact, someone remarked to me: ‘All of your stories seem pretty dark. Some brighter/lighter pieces too?‘ But actually, it’s a lot more difficult to write something happy than not-so-happy. I wonder why? Maybe because people find it easier to relate to hardships and sufferings and heartbreaks more so than joyful and blissful moments? I’m still thinking this one through—let me know if you have any good explanations.
Although I’ve submitted and had several Twitter fiction pieces published by 7×20 over this past year (you can check out the full list of 11 stories here: ‘Publications‘), I’ve most proud of the ones I’ve written for the seasonal competitions. I wondered why that was so, that is, until I realised I had grown up in Japan where I frequently came into contact with haiku (traditional form of Japanese poetry, usually 17 syllables). Haiku is usually written with nature as its subject, which might explain the natural inclination I have towards writing Twitter fiction—which in its own way could also be considered a type of poetry—centred around seasonal themes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I wasn’t the only one who made this connection between Twitter fiction and haiku: my good friend Remi Yamazaki also caught on to the similarities in an article she wrote entitled ‘How Twitter Is Making English Better‘.
I personally feel that it’s wholly unfortunate Twitter fiction is still such a highly neglected form of writing. Many famous authors (e.g. David Mitchell’s short story published entirely on Twitter ‘The Right Sort‘, Neil Gaiman & Twitterverse’s story-cum-audiobook ‘Hearts, Keys, and Puppetry‘, Teju Cole’s short story published on Twitter by retweeting 31 people’s tweets ‘Hafiz‘, etc.) have tried their hand at writing literature using the Twitter medium, to fascinating and gripping results. I do hope it’ll catch on and people will begin comprehending the endless possibilities of fiction or poetry writing using Twitter.
I’ll end with a quote from Teju Cole in his interview with NPR (‘Teju Cole Writes A Story A Tweet At A Time‘) about ‘On using Twitter to tell stories’:
What interests me is polished language, language that one has worked on. The way that it can work inside this medium where a lot of the language that you’re seeing is not carefully considered. And then you put these very clean, simple sentences out there, and people think, “Oh, that’s having some kind of strange effect on me, but I’m not sure why.”
But you as a writer know that it’s because you have quite carefully thought about the placement of your commas, and about your word choice, and about using simple words, and about using slightly unusual grammar, or that sort of thing. Basically the same way that you would have an effect on your reader if you were writing an article for Harpers or The Atlantic or if you were publishing a novel.
Why not have a go at writing your own Twitter story or poem?