how to write a novel. 140 characters at a time.



NL Belardes works in the ABC newsroom. He's got an interesting side project: He's writing a novel, titled Small Places, 140 characters at a time. Using Twitter, of course. (If you start reading now, just make sure you start at the bottom.)

I wonder if he's actually posting as he's writing, or if he's got a portion of the story "in the can" and posts it periodically? (I've asked him via Twitter. Follow his personal Twitter stream , and maybe we'll find out.)

This is an interesting writing technique - because once it's posted, it's published. He can't go back and edit. That's got to be a real challenge for the author of a novel. This is a fun, and really cool idea.

4 comments:

Aprille said...

reminds me of Twittories - except individual vs collaborative. Both are very interesting concepts. I still haven't read the Twittory "The Darkness Inside" yet. I'll add this one to the to-read list.

N.L. Belardes said...

"Small Places" is actually a combination of concepts merged into one. The first is that I had a portion of a manuscript lying around that I thought might be interesting to a business/marketing jet-setting crowd. I also had new ideas for characters and themes.

Especially the theme part. The whole obsession with bugs portion with the main character is the main new theme, as is the theme of small places.

Twitter is sort of a big place made up of many small 140-character places. A twitter novel would be sort of a big lump of clay made from many small mostly stand-alone parts. It's compartmentalized and yet together by its very nature.

And it's a very compartmentalized story with an original titled of "Cubicles." People, jobs, lives, thoughts, all tucked away at times in the compartments of lives we lead.

"Small Places" kind of takes that idea to an extreme.

The merging part takes all that I have: incomplete novel plus new ideas and re-forms them into a twitter novel, a twitter book, a twittery piece of literature that at its very root, I hope people enjoy as it's revealed.

Really, every entry is rewritten and molded for Twitter. If I were editing a novel I wouldn't edit every line.

This is a complete reformation of what was a half-built lump of something.

The final book will hopefully sort of resemble a statue with actual arms and legs...

darryl ohrt said...

N.L: Thanks for the insight and behind the scenes look at the process. That's awesome.

I find your point about editing every line extremely interesting. I hadn't given that a thought before - but when you're creating 140 characters at a time, every character is important.

Kind of like producing a 30 second spot. Every second has to matter.

We'll look forward to continued development and reading "Small Places."

N.L. Belardes said...

No problem. Another way to think of "Small Places" is as a novel broken up into flash fiction.

Flash fiction can come in all shapes and sizes (As can poetry where every word matters too). The smaller the flash fiction, the more weight each word has. Here's an exercise I offered on blogging made concise. It actually offers flash fiction tips in how to take a 133 word block and make it 100, 50, 20, and 10 words. You can really see how words become clay.

People can practice for themselves and see that 140 characters is a lot of space in a world of teeny flash fiction.

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