I ran across a contest in the Gotham Writers’ magazine for a “tweet contest.” The story must be no more than 140 characters, including punctuation and spaces. I sent the link to my Santa Barbara writers’ group and two of the members submitted right away. I was impressed by their speed.
I have a history in my writing of being verbose. I find writing short difficult. I’ve heard people say that it is harder, and I agree. Maybe this is why I’ve never really gone in for poetry.
Hemingway wrote a short story only six words long: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” He was a master of the concise. There is so much behind only six words – the last two make a heart-wrenching story.
It is a powerful tool, to be able to say a lot with few words. Below I’ve pasted some of the ideas I had for the tweet contest, which I did not submit (can’t post my submission here, in case I win!).
The scent of burning hair seeps from a corner. “Let’s skip the date,” she said. The flat iron set fire to the curtains while they f*cked.
Hand under shirt. Lips on corner of ear. Lip on lip. Hit pause on good moments. Don’t cry looking at lonely engagement ring.
She sucks a burned fingertip. Better than cigarettes, she thinks, twisting down the dial on the stove. Better than you.
The tweet contest is the perfect example of how the world is changing. The other night I heard someone say that ADD is evolutionary: humans are actually evolving to have shorter attention spans. As the world changes, writing changes. While we explore the digital age, newspapers and magazines shrink and it is just as important to negotiate e-book contracts as traditional publishing.
Are novels going out of style? As I begin to revise my rough draft, I hope this is not the case.