Twitter Murders The Novel.

Here’s me selling out a guy named Courtney.  An outlaw friend.

Courtney’s a Twitter fiend.  Pure junky.  He shoots tweets all day long, all evening long, all night long.  He sips a couple tweets just before bed so that he can fall asleep. He takes a few tweets in the kitchen when he thinks no one’s looking.  He lies about how many times he’s tweeted.  He says he doesn’t have a tweeting problem.  He says it’s under control.  He says he can quit at any time.

He probably even tweets while he showers.

But yesterday I read an essay Courtney wrote for a fatherhood blog zine, an essay called “Good Enough Is Good.  Enough.” (Click on it and read)

And this essay is good.  Honest and real.  Developed and engaging.

But unfortunately that’s not Courtney’s normal medium.  One of his Twitter followers even commented on the fatherhood site that she loved hearing him write more than 140 characters.

And that’s the problem.  The Twitter limit. The 140.

Twitter is great for sound bites and one liners.  It’s great for a pic or a link. It’s even great when we need to hear Shaq tell the world his new nickname:

“In Boston…I’m the Big Shamrock”

Thank you, Shaquille O’Neal.  We are all now dumber.

Twitter’s just not worth the time people put into it.  Not worth hours of following. Not worth hours of tweeting.  I know people who literally spend four to six hours a day.  Yep, that’s right.  Four to six hours every single day reading and writing something that should come out of a small bird.

140 characters or fewer.

No depth.  No development.  No revealing dialogue.

Tweeters can’t lose the plot because there was no plot to begin with.

So, as an experiment, I thought I’d drop the first 140 characters of a few great novels and see if there’s a “there” there.  Yep, I just used the word “there” three times because I can, because I’m not limited by character count.


Here’s the opening to Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion:

Along the western slopes of the Oregon Coastal Range…come look: the hysterical crashing tributaries as they merge into the Wakonda Auga Ri

Hmm…an okay hook.  The Wikonda Auga Ri sounds violent.  But I think it means “River,” not a Ri, and in that case I’m not into water books.

But how about Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, another supposed classic:

He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of th

I’m guessing “trees” is the next word.  Easy to guess.  Predictable.  So this must not be a very good novel.  A little cliche in fact.  The wind blew in the tops of the trees…blah, blah, blah…

And, finally, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (and you’re not going to believe this one).  Here it is, Morrison Tweeted:

Here is the house.  It is green and white.  It has a red door.  It is very pretty.  Here is the family.  Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane li

Dick and Jane?  Are you kidding me?  Is that for real?  And Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature?  How?  How could she win with a tweet like this?  I mean, honestly, this is one of the worst novels I’ve ever Tweeted.


2 thoughts on “Twitter Murders The Novel.

  1. I think you are looking at this the wrong way Pete. What if authors would use more thrift with their words. We could read books so much faster if they limited themselves to 140 characters. Here are a couple of examples…

    Old Man and the Sea written on Twitter:
    Old Cuban dude fights a marlin. Major struggle ensues. Old dude wins. Then loses the marlin on the way home. Gets coffee from a boy.

    A River Runs Through It written on Twitter…
    Family has 2 sons and they love to fly fish. 1 is responsible and 1 is a risk taker. The responsible 1 prospers. The risk taker dies.


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