I’ve found a new challenge in the stories I’ve created for Instagram and Twitter. The format for the different sites has required me to learn some new tricks and techniques that are a little outside my wheelhouse. Even when I write short stories I tend to be long winded, and the projects as a whole have forced me out of that way of thinking.
Let’s start with Instagram. Poets and authors have been putting pieces up for a while now, usually small pieces. In trying to translate my writing to the format I originally intended for the stories to be self contained pieces. However, when a friend read over Calling Spring she challenged me to extend the story. This made a new difficulty; writing 2-3 paragraph serials that had to be at least somewhat a whole piece, but tie to the rest of the story. Read all at once Calling Spring would be very repetitive, but I had to establish the character each serial.
My new story Twist of the Mind is less self contained but has much more action, which made a prolonged fight have to be cut into pieces while still having a satisfactory serial. That forced me to condense language, slim down on details and take a story apart in a way that would make some sense to people picking up in the middle. This exercise should pay off with tighter writing in my other work.
If you have to trim for Instagram, you have to butcher for Twitter. I challenged myself to keep each story 140 characters or less, not including tags. The hardest part was trying was trying to portray action or emotion into a very small space. I would write something, then trim out excess words, exchange small words for big ones and try to convey detail in a story that at most has 20 words.
Ultimately, I think these exercises can help anyone write better. Being forced to keep the story intact over several parts helps to learn how to keep the reader in the moment. Pared down writing will certainly help action scenes be made more fast paced, as opposed to slogging through a paragraph describing every blow. Overall I am happy I took on these challenges and look forward to making more.