Let’s Celebrate the New Extra-Long Tweets with a 280-Character Fiction Contest
Nobody asked for this, but at least we can write some good stories about it
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B y now you’ve heard the news that the favorite social-media platform of trolls everywhere (President included) will soon afford its cabal of miscreants twice the space to rant, rave, and make typos. Yes, Twitter is undercutting everyone’s favorite excuse for backing out of an argument—“sorry, can’t do this in 140 characters”—by doubling maximum tweet length to 280. To that, we offer a resounding WHY PLEASE NO. But we also can’t help but wonder: What will this mean for the blue-checked literati? What will the fiction writers of the world do with the extra space?
Back in 2009, Electric Literature published “Some Contemporary Characters” by Rick Moody, serialized fiction written in 140-character bursts. Three years later, The New Yorker, which gets all its best ideas from us, followed with “Black Box” by Jennifer Egan. (You’re welcome, David Remnick!) David Mitchell tried again with “The Right Sort” in 2014, which became the first chapter of his book Slade House, and surely there were many since and in between.
It’s fun to experiment, but let’s be honest, do we really want our stories carved up into sentences of arbitrary length? The answer is yes! We are Oulipian sycophants who need rules to create!
In that spirit, we’re hosting a 280-character fiction contest. And we’re asking you to be inspired by doublewide tweets not only in form, but in content: the story must be about something getting magically, randomly, inexplicably, or mysteriously bigger, longer, or just… more. Think Mary Poppins’ bag, that dream where you find another room in your apartment, House of Leaves, the story of Hanukkah, the feast of Cana, or clown cars. Feel free to steal any of these.
Submit your tiny story via our Submittable by Monday, October 16. The prize is publication in Electric Literature. We’ll also tweet the best stories, if Twitter ever gives us 280.