Twitter Novels are one use of Twitter that many of us would never consider – but there’s a growing number of Twitter Novelists exploring the medium. Today Brandon J. Mendelson, author of The Falcon Can Hear The Falconer (a Twitter Novel) gives some tips for writing Twitter Novels.
A word of caution: As far as English language Twitter novels go, this is new territory. Based on early results, as compiled by ReadWriteWeb, there have not been any success stories. RWW never spelled out what would be defined as a success, but I took their comments to assume no Twitter novelists have crossed into the mainstream or made money. It may be only a matter of time before this changes.
What I’m presenting here are suggestions on how to write and operate your new Twitter novel based on my experience writing â€œThe Falcon Can Hear The Falconerâ€. I hope what I’m proposing will provide a blueprint for interested writers to create successful Twitter novels.
Twitter Novel Tips
1. Throw Out The Manuscript
Twitter is instantaneous. Serializing a manuscript may be easy, but trying to contract and make logical sense of it in 140 character bursts is not. By doing this, you limit the flexibility that Twitter grants in presenting your fiction. Start fresh.
2. Have A Plan
Although there’s no need for a manuscript, you should know where the story is going. I found writing a scene for a play to be more helpful than translating a manuscript for Twitter. The formatting for a scene provides more freedom to work within the spaces you’ve created and allow the story to grow organically. Don’t hesitate to explore.
3. Manage The Clock
What’s great about a Twitter novel is that your content is no longer static. Depending on how committed you are, you could have events happen in real time using services like Tweetlater.
4. Not Just Story. Events
If a character is mugged at 6am, you could post a police announcement on the Twitter novel looking for the perpetrator. What are the characters listening to on the radio? Is someone calling them that’s important to the story? Use Twitpic to show a photo of one of your friends or an actor to show the reader who is calling or what the mugger looks like.
The post doesn’t have to be from your outline, it could be something within the environment that adds to the story.
5. Don’t Bury The Lead
More than five Twitter posts on any given day can be dangerous. You’ll induce reader fatigue, and new readers will get lost quickly.
There’s an assumption that many of your Twitter followers will enjoy your work while on the go, so their time to take in a novel may be limited to short bursts. Focus on each post’s quality and …
6. Move It Forward
Simply put: Each tweet should move the story forward in some way. If it doesn’t, cut it.
7. Newbies And Greenhorns
Finally, you may have readers follow you after the novel has started. I recommend setting up a simple website that contains the story’s updates from where it began. Include this link on your Twitter page. Occasionally remind readers on days that you do not update that they can catch up at this website.
The format is still new, but it won’t be long until we start to read about successful Twitter novelists getting publishing deals. Why? A large following equates to a large potential customer base. If you can show you have a customer base, you are better positioned to land a book deal.
Best of luck to you on your literary journey.
PS from Darren: Have you written or followed any Twitter Novels? I’d love to see links to them and to hear your experience of them in comments below!