For sure, an author is unable to treat Twitter like a simple blank page, piling sentence upon sentence, paragraph after paragraph. "I can't overload people's accounts by writing 200 sentences in one go-through," says Scharpling. "I'm trying to limit myself to 10 sentences at a time. That way I'm not killing you with endless tweets."
And if the permanence of a Twitter post means one has to choose one's words carefully — "If I write something stupid, I'm locked into that," says Scharpling — that's counterbalanced by another unique benefit to the format: interactivity. Witness Scharpling interrupting his narrative to josh back and forth with fans and friends. And maybe that should be the point.
"It's ridiculous, this thing I'm writing," admits Scharpling. "It's insane." But he's having fun. And if the Twitter novel doesn't look to be supplanting hardcovers anytime soon, as long as people are reading, he intends to keep typing.
So, maybe not quite a novel. But at least a novella.
"Look, I'm not going to compete with a Roberto Bolaño. This is not going to be a 900-page epic. But it is going to be a real story."
Mike Miliard wrote this article 140 characters at a time. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
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