Hear me out before you scoff at the title of today’s post. I get it – I’m totally one of those people who makes fun of others who say “O-M-G” out loud (my husband threatened to leave me when I started saying “BRB”) or are constantly on their phones updating the latest statuses.
In this day and age, people are used to short and sweet, getting the point across in under 140 characters. Well, if you look at it from a certain angle (you can stand here next to me), I think it’s arguable that Twitter has helped make me a better writer.
You see, I don’t use shorthand for texts or updates. I use whole words, full sentences, and correct grammar/punctuation. “U R nice 2” makes me cringe. With only 140 characters, I had to learn how to shorten my statuses to where they were understandable and not in some crazy teen code. Plus you occasionally include @user or links, so that’s even less space for your tweet. Twitter users learn to get their point across in a few short sentences.
In order to get people’s attention on Twitter, not only do you need to be helpful (RT’s, shout outs, answering questions), you have to be clever. I’ve mentioned that Twitter is a great outlet for me because I have a fairly dry sense of humor. I’m all about the funny one-liners and random witty thoughts. Most of my characters love to be funny, so that’s good practice for me to make people laugh in less than 3 sentences.
So how does Twitter make me a better author?
I try to involve the reader as fast as possible so as not to lose their interest. I pay more attention to my tenses (past and present) from the narrator’s perspective, as well as try harder to use action verbs – to show instead of tell. It helps me think of a character’s clever comeback, the short, snappy retorts that might get a little laugh.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned to get straight to the point, instead of dancing around the subject for 3 pages. Not only does that reduce my word count, but it encourages me to focus on the main points of the story, to really dig in to that plot rather than get distracted and include too much. Just the other day, I ruthlessly cut a scene from BURNED because I knew that the whole scene was written for one particular point – a point I easily included in another chapter in just a couple short sentences. Thanks to Twitter constantly reminding me to get the idea across in 140 characters, I had no problem cutting an unnecessary scene that doesn’t push the story forward.
How else do you think Twitter can help authors in their writing?
Got questions about Twitter? Here are Twitter Tips for Indie Authors (including information on hashtags, profiles, and creating lists to avoid getting overwhelmed).