Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Adventures in Twit Lit

Okay, I admit it. It's a mad idea. Serialising a whole novel on twitter. But there is something about the experiment that appeals to me on a creative/communicative level. Inevitably it has led to a fair bit of head shaking of the 'what is the world coming to' variety.

There was this in a Miami Herald blog. "Oh the temptation to start raging about the idiocy of new technology is strong..." Well, rage if you like. But what about print newspapers with online bloggers attached? Couldn't that be seen as another way that new technology is changing the way we receive information. Far be it from me to decry that as 'idiocy'.

Blogbook dismisses it as a publicity stunt, and a failed one at that. I admit that part of my motivation was to try and attract new readers to my books. Guilty as charged. We writers do not have the massive budgets spent on advertising that a new blockbuster film has, for example. So we have to do what we can. That said, I was interested in how this way of receiving text differs as a reading experience from sitting down and reading a book.

It's true, getting a sentence or a fragment every hour - that's how I am now scheduling my tweets - is not like sitting down and reading an extended section of the book through. You won't necessarily remember what went before. The text will work on the reader in a different way - but I am interested to see just how.

I like the way my sentences pop up every hour. It's interesting for me, as the writer, to see them like that in isolation. They take on, if not a different meaning, then a different power - stranger, more enigmatic.

Not all the coverage has been negative. Hannah Rudman seems to talk a lot of sense about twitter here. Whilst the Daily Beast includes me in a round-up of something it calls Twit Lit in a discussion on the Future of Publishing. Twit Lit, hmmm. Not sure I like that, but I suppose it was too hard to resist.

And not all of the coverage has been in English either. I even made the literary news in France.

Meanwhile, the twitterisation continues. New followers join here.


Mack said...

Maybe it's my profession and interest in social networking tools but I wonder that some can so quickly dismiss experiments like yours. Personally, I find a sentence such as "She was handcuffed to a black-uniformed polizyeisky who maintained exemplary side-whiskers and an outraged expression." intriguing. If I hadn't already read the book I'm sure my interest would have been stimulated. I hope you and other authors are willing to explore how social networking/social media services to promote your work. Some things will work, others won't. Something might not work in medium but flourish in another. How are you going to know if you don't try.


Wanza Leftwich, The Gospel Writer said...

I think this is a great idea. As a writer we are always looking for ways to promote our books. I read about this from another tweet. I say keep it up and see what happens. I'm going to follow you. I'm intrigued...and impressed.

Roger Morris said...

Thanks Mack and Wanza. It's great to get your messages of support. So much of what we do borders on the crazy... but you know, as Seal once sung, We're never going to survive unless we go a little crazy... or something like that. I never really knew what that meant until now.

Ian Wilson said...

It's certainly worth a try and I commend you for it. Why not try to get new readers, greater exposure? As a reading experience, though, that's another matter. I found the beginning of the piece and began reading in proper sequence. Twitter appears to force you into short, often declarative statements so any kind of rhythm and pacing that you might get going in the prose are washed out. It takes on a kind of reportorial style. If there was ever a time to move to third person present tense, this is it, which would produce a match between the formal requirements of the Twitter feed and the prose. Everything about Twitter is now. What am I doing now? What is your novel doing now?:

It is well into the morning when the darkness begins to fade. Zoya moves through Petrovsky Park with determination, as fat and dark in her bundled layers as a beetle. The paths are hidden under snow. But she has no use for them anyway, tredding her own path. Whenever she has to stoop to add a stick to her basket of firewood, it is with some effort and pain that she straightens up. She thinks of the little one shivering at home, and of the sacrifices Lilya has had to make. The things a woman must do. It has never been easy, though some would have accused her of choosing the easy way once.

I think you've succeeded at getting a conversation going about your book and that's no small thing.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Kerrie said...

Hello Roger
Are you up to contributing a few lines to a collaborative crime
fiction story? Whether you are a published writer or simply a reader
of the genre, and even if you aren't, here is your chance to
contribute to a unique project.

I am running an activity which is a variation of a "serial" story,
written by multiple contributors, authors and readers of crime fiction.

Check it out at
and please participate.

PS that last comment from "richmond" is spam