Twit Lit 101: How Twitter Is Redefining Writing

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Twitter critics all seem to forget the old adage: less is more.

If you’re anti-Twitter because you just “don’t care what someone had for breakfast,” then maybe you’re still missing the point.

At least according to Chris Vognar in the Dallas Morning News, who says that Twitter isn’t just a place for frivolous updates or random links. He says there’s actual literary value in keeping things 140 characters and less.

And he has a point.

Writers, poets and editors have long known the importance of conciseness. As Vognar points out, it takes a lot more skill to make a salient point in 140 characters than it does with dozens of needless words.

And that’s where Twitter’s literary value really shows. Not in the reading of tweets—which can of course be consumed rather quickly—but in the writing. To write a pithy, interesting tweet, time after time, takes discipline (what exactly are you trying to say), self-editing (it’s difficult to stay under the character limit), and an appreciation for language (which words are absolutely necessary).

Time’s own James Poniewozik made similar observations recently, pointing to past literary giants who “would have killed on Twitter.” (Alexander Pope in this case).

From the Twitter novel to the Twitter short story to the Twitter humorists, there is a strong case for how, when done right, Twitter allows writers to use a new form of technology to sharpen the old writing rules.

Twitter is all about what you make of it. And like all forms of literature, sometimes it takes a bit of effort to find the masterpieces (that is, until they actually have introductory college courses on the literary art of Twitter). So when you find something worthwhile, please make sure to retweet.

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