Having failed NaNaWriMo yet a-feckin’-gain, which is now the second year in succession from two attempts, my eyes lit up when I saw the Metro’s story about Twitter running its tell-a-novel-story-in-tweets festival.
Impossible, you say? Think on.
Back in the day, F.Scott Fitzgerald challenged renowned US novelist of his time, Ernest Hemingway, to write a complete story in six words. So certain of the improbability, Fitzgerald even slapped a wager on it. Thus was born the tweet, long before the Internet and Twitter was even conceived.
In response, Hemingway compiled, “For Sale, baby shoes, never worn.” When I first saw that, my original reaction was, “It’s no feckin’ Gone With The Wind, is it?”
But as I was trying to get my articles written, I kept thinking, “What happened to the baby?” I couldn’t make up my mind whether she’d died (I was convinced that the baby was female) or had been put up for adoption or what.
I even wondered what the mother of the shoes must be going through having to tell such a tale. Not only did those six words make for a complete thought, they planted a seed that was yearning to reach the sunlight of the back-story.
My guess is that F. Scott Fitzgerald begrudgingly settled the bet.
Jennifer Egan’s Black Box was all over twitter
Hemingway is not the only author who’s used flash fiction in the context of the bigger picture. Jennifer Egan revolutionised twitter from its micro-blogging status using it to become an integral part of her novel, Black Box.
The concept was that Egan’s main character had a brain implant through which the government was recording her thoughts. Although the book was being narrated by said character, this particular chapter was scribed completely in the third person.
Each thought was emoted in bursts of 140 characters or less as bulletins, building up the full chapter as tweets on twitter. For Egan, it was imperative that the tweets were not snippets of text that had to be word-wrapped to make one whole, but that each tweet stood up as an independent standalone thought.
And by not utilising the first-person “I did this, I did that,” p.o.v., each tweet helped the reader feel intimately connected, almost as if they were secretly reading the character’s most private bits.
Little did the character know that the author was spattering last night’s experience with the rampant rabbit across the twitter stream. Bitch.
Those are just two examples of how flash fiction and twitter can be used to create emotive, compelling writing. So, two questions.
What is your six-word short story? And, what was the back-story to Hemingway’s baby shoes?
You already know my Hemingway chain of thought, but here’s my attempt at the six-word challenge:
Rangers relegated, Celtic champions, 2013-2016…