Creating Stories Inside Twitter’s New 280 Character Limit


In light of Twitter recently doubling the text limit of a post on its service, Electric Literature held a contest in which they asked for 280-character short stories.

From Hemingway’s widespread six word stories to time travellers bickering on a forum about killing Hitler, I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing flash fiction (or microfictions, or sudden fiction, or whatever term is trendy today) for its hidden depth and ability to hint at a something larger than itself.

Anyway, some of the entries in the Electric Literature contest were pretty damn good so I thought I’d share a couple of my favourites here.

James Lough, “When We Lost Alphonse”

We worried when Alphonse tried heroin, which exposed him to the world of marijuana, and quickly opened the door to beer, which naturally led him to pretzels and peanuts. Before we could intervene, we found him enmeshed in a group who allegedly ate nothing but vegetables.

Stephen Aubrey, “Cohabitation”

Our first night living together, we took in that puppy howling outside the door. An auspice, I thought. But we’d never done this before. We didn’t know how small things can grow, what little space we can be left to live in. We were not the sort to abandon something until we were.

You can check out the rest of the winners (complete with illustrations) at the Electric Literature site.

They’re all well put together, each one making me more excited to give the constricted format a whirl myself. It’s said creativity comes from setting limits after all. Just look at superheroes for an example: Superman wouldn’t be a very interesting character if he had no weaknesses whatsoever, he needs those constraints to create an interesting story.

So how about you, feeling inspired by the 280 character limit? Or do you hate having to create within artificial boundaries? Either way, let me know what you think in the comments.

“Twitter” image by juliusbulius licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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