Twitter: an Innovative Literary Platform for Dark Fiction Writers


Twitter is no longer the self-absorbed, celebrity ditz of social media apps

‘Twitterature’ or ‘Twitterfiction’ began around 2008, two years after Twitter itself was launched. Now quite the diva, Twitterfiction showcases new forms of writing, constrained by the 140-character limit of each tweet.

It is however, viewed by some as one of the great blights facing traditional literature mediums.

Cursed as a book-killer and narrative desecrator, it supposedly represents a mass-scale amateurisation of everything old people have held sacred for mothballed eons: literary sophistication, gatekeeping, respectable grammar, and expression.

Twitter is in fact an excellent tool for genre writers.

It challenges authors and encourages expansion of what is considered ‘legitimate’ literature.

Besides providing form experimentation through writing categories such as microfiction (a short, self-contained story), it also offers new ways of  presenting works with immediate feedback and writer-reader interaction.

The restrictiveness of Twitter also forces writers to think about their audience, in order to capture their attention.

Some critics like Jonathan Franzen perceive Twitterature as the Jar Jar Binks of literary mediums: Clumsy, goofy, and unbearably irritating.

I digress. It takes a certain kind of determination and talent to compose a 140-character literary tweet. In fact, it can be a helpful exercise in refining ideas and getting to the core of a story.

Dark Fiction is all about creating an atmosphere of eeriness and spookiness. It explores a darker human condition: the flip side of ordinary.

In my view, Dark Fiction really lends itself to microfiction. Great examples of this are Teju Cole’s Small Fate tweets and DeadEndFiction’s tweets:

“In Ikotun, Mrs Ojo, who was terrified of armed robbers, died in her barricaded home, of smoke inhalation.”

“Lost loved ones can’t be replaced. But there’s something there, sitting in your place, not yet casting a shadow but growing in your absence.”

Each carefully crafted line laughs sardonically at arbitrary happenings in life.

In this form, Dark Fiction can adopt an eerie resonance: a brevity that can be uniquely frightening.

In this constantly changing technological world, driven by accessibility, entertainment and experimentation, writers can’t afford to be narcissistic platform-phobes, as they risk closing themselves off from vast audiences and new forms.

Instead they need to adapt to the fast-paced writing scenes that fluidly shift from mobile, tablet, laptop and computer, and offer an immersive experience that, however fleeting, connects them with readers.

Post image: “Welcome to Twitter” by free Flikr Public Domain Licence 2016