Thankfully, there’s more to Twitter than breaking news and pithy tweets. People have experimenting with the form by live-tweeting history, broadcasting epic books and composing clever infographics.
Thursday night, The New Yorker introduces the latest experiment: tweeting a Jennifer Egan short story that was specifically composed in 140 character increments. Meaning, unlike other books that have been broken up into tiny Twitter-digestible chunks, this work of fiction’s dramatic arc is supposed to take advantage of the medium.
“I’d also been wondering about how to write fiction whose structure would lend itself to serialization on Twitter,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and TIME 100 honoree wrote at the magazine’s Page-Turner blog. “I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea.”
Egan told the New York Times that the 8,500 word story, “Black Box,” will be tweeted minute-by-minute from 8 pm to 9 pm by the @NYerFiction account starting tonight, and again at the same time each night for the next ten days. Only after it has been published on Twitter will the story find its way to print in the hardcover magazine.
(LIST: The Best Fiction Books of 2010)
It’s not the first time Egan has tried something a little different with fiction: her award-winning 2010 book, A Visit From the Goon Squad, included a chapter written in the form of PowerPoint slides. Interestingly, even though Egan composed her fiction short story for Twitter, she’s also previously expressed that she hasn’t really gotten into the medium herself.
“I do have a Twitter handle, but I’ve proved an inert tweeter (four total!), and I very rarely even go on Twitter, so I’m pretty oblivious to what’s going on there,” she explained to The Atlantic Wire in an interview last year. “I just can’t seem to adapt to the language or rhythm of Twitter, and so I find myself avoiding it.”
She appears to have used the social-networking service only sparingly since then, although she did tweet about the New Yorker experiment today.