Is Twitter a Viable Format for Storytelling?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


First there was fast fiction…then there was nano fiction…now there is twitter fiction. At 120 words a burst, Twitter would seem unsuited to narrative fiction. But as our lead editorial today by Andy Hunter, editor-in-chief of Electric Literature demonstrates, Twitter can be used as a format for fiction, provided one is a dedicated follower of the tweets (one can’t imagine jumping into the middle of a short story…or can they?) or else knows how to search a Twitter stream for a particular hashtag to see everything as a threaded message and doesn’t mind reading as a computer screen scrolls up and not down.

The question is, though, is Twitter truly a viable medium for storytelling? Certainly there are poems that compress a short narrative into as small a space—think of William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” (87 characters)—and there are headlines that can do the same (take a look at almost any edition of The New York Post). Surely asking the average Twitter user to channel William Carlos Williams and Page Six everyday is asking too much, but I suppose that may be why so many tweets command so little attention.

Let us know what you think in the comments below or using hashtag #ppbonus?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.