Today we have Ashleigh Bonner on the blog talking about the things Twitter taught her about writing. I can definitely relate to that frustration at the number 140!! Thanks for stopping by Ashleigh 🙂
HOW TWITTER SAVED MY NOVEL
Have you ever been frustrated by the number 140? Have you ever wished images weren’t included in your character count? If you’ve been affected by either of these things, you’ve been tweeting. When I joined Twitter I lamented the tiny word count, but after two months I can now say Twitter is the reason my first draft is nearly done.
I didn’t learn to write succinctly until I started tweeting. I’d ramble. In my mind and in my writing. Twitter forced me to know my point and get to the point. In the beginning, I didn’t want to twit, twut, or tweet anything. I didn’t see the use of Twitter, just that everyone said it was needed. But eventually, at the advice of others, I took the short but wild roller coaster ride that is joining Twitter.
After scrounging up two email addresses and two phone numbers, I had two separate accounts. I’m so glad I signed up because Twitter saved my writing life. It could save yours, as well.
By forcing you to express yourself in 27 words or less, including spaces, Twitter can help your manuscript in the following three areas:
With such a limited amount of words at your disposal, you can’t waste any of them. There’s a long-held saying in the writing world, “Make each word count.” While using Twitter your words are literally being counted, and as you approach 140 characters you organize as you go. Twitter makes you consider whether or not there’s a better word for what you’re trying to say. It makes you consider the overall message. It makes you consider each separate thought, and whether or not it flows into the next. As you watch the character count drop until it goes to negative one and turns red, your brain is working hard to find your message, and fit it into the narrow space.
As you type, you think:
How can I get my idea out?
Is the meaning correct?
Will the readers retweet and like my message?
After obsessing over these three things, you reread your post to make sure it’s organized, clear, and concise enough to be sent out.
And finally, when your message (novel) is as close to right as possible, you hit post. Similarly, you hit publish, or drop your manuscript in the mailbox. And then wait to see if someone resonates with it.
You, like every author, want to be heard. You, like every author, want to convey what you see in your head. You want to be read and understood. Writing your masterpiece is like writing a Twitter post, except on a much larger scale.
Twitter benefits your writing in ways that will help get your first draft written by not allowing edits. The advice is to “Turn off your inner editor and just write.” By threatening you with having to start a post over, Twitter helps you turn off your editor until the post is written, and edit when it’s complete. This stream-of-conscious writing gets words on the page, quickly. Which is good news for you because it’s impossible to edit something that doesn’t exist.
Trust me, you have to write it. I tried editing my novel in my head. It was a disaster filled with a perpetual headache.
All of these strategies: weighing the importance of words, organizing sentences, rereading and editing, and turning off your editor and just writing, play crucial roles in a book, poem, short story, or memoir. Twitter encourages (forces) you to consider these every time you put finger to keyboard.
When quoting someone else I get a lot of training listening to the flow of their words. I focus on getting the quote correct first, then hearing the beauty of it. Finally, I interpret it.
Twitter can help your dialogue because you get to hear many different voices. Whether you’re writing or reading someone else’s quote you’re hearing their tone of voice and mood. Sarcasm, humor, joy, anger. All these are in the posts that people share. Each quote has emotions, and body language, behind the words. Every time you stop and read you collect another person’s mindset.
I’m a pantser. I’ve never written a full outline in my life. After joining Twitter I finished an outline of my entire book. Through Twitter’s 140 characters I learned to break the big picture into small chunks and tie those chunks together.
As I write a post I can feel my brain reorganizing my thoughts. The videos that play in my head smooth out as I type on my phone’s keyboard, and I can rewind and fast-forward them easier. Having to restrict my communication length and put a deadline on my imagination helped me rise above my novel and see it from many different angles.
Twitter can help you see your character’s story and emotional arc through its small bits of information. Each hunk of knowledge melds with another hunk to create a conversation. This skillset can be translated to an outline, which strengthens your manuscript because scenes that you setup must get paid off later.
Twitter saved my novel. I hope it saves yours, too.
Thanks for reading.
Good luck, fellow world creators!
Ashleigh Bonner can be found on Twitter at @AshAnAuthor
Her website is Post It Note Dreams