Twitterature: A new twist on creative writing

June 15, 2010 at 8:12 pm 2 comments

By Sally Saville Hodge

I wish I had a nickel for every eye-roll I’ve encountered when mentioning Twitter as a social media channel.

I wish I had a dime for every person who’s ever told me they thought Twitter was stupid, without trying it first to get the context.

I wish I had a quarter for everyone who’s ever asked me what they’d Tweet about anyway, and how can anyone possibly write about anything meaningfully in 140 characters or less.

Well, no one’s getting rich off Twitter yet – least of all me. Even though an increasing number of businesses are apparently using it as a tool to build their images and contribute over the long haul to their revenue streams. Think Dell. Or Zappos. Or even small businesses without the big guys’ resources, like the coffeeshop CoffeeGroundz.

But one interesting way to look at Twitter goes beyond dollars and cents and considers its contribution to our culture as spawning a creative new literary form. Time magazine columnist James Poniewozik writes about it, and makes some relevant comparisons to how writers have, through the ages, “shaped their work to exploit technology.”

Now, there’s “Twitterature” that goes well beyond the Tweets and re-Tweets of celebrity doings, endless links to this or that article, and mindless meanderings about Average Joe or Jill’s day.

We have humor. Comedian Justin Halpern’s posts as @shitmydadsays have earned him such a following that it has led to a television show, to premier this fall. A recent sample: ”I don’t want your advice, you’re 27 fucking years old…Fine. I don’t want your advice, you’re 29 fucking years old.”

There’s satire. Consider @BPGlobalPR which has gained legions of followers since the disaster on the Gulf Coast. Its biting posts surely are giving BP’s real PR team fits. To wit: “Surprised ourselves by getting emotional on the coast today. Turns out the wind blew dispersant in our eyes.”

And satiric writing resources, even. Anyone who has ever referred to the venerable AP Stylebook for guidance will appreciate @FakeAPStylebook: “Spell it “ellipsis,” “ellipses,” “elipsis,” “ellipseseisis” – no one really knows or cares.”

I’m having trouble with the idea of a sitcom designed around a Twitter feed, no matter how good the posts. And for me, Twitterature will never replace the well-written book, newspaper or magazine or even blog article. But it does the job of providing entertainment in fast, bite-sized morsels. It’s pretty apropos for our lifestyles today.

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Entry filed under: Definitions, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Communications, New/Social Media, Sally Hodge, Trends, Writing/Editing.

Why some call it ‘the dark side’… Social media and the bottom line: Are “impressions” and followers good enough?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bob  |  June 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Don’t forget the actual book, TWITTERATURE, mentioned by Poniewozik — written by two U of Chicago sophomores who re-rendered 80 works of classic literature in 20 tweets or fewer, each. High concept humor, especially for those who have read the classics that the authors both lampooned and loved.

    Reply
  • 2. Sally Hodge  |  June 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Yup, should have included that too. (Those crazy, creative college kids!) Here’s a direct link for anyone interested: http://www.twitterature.us/us/index.htm

    Reply

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