Twitter can be used for a plethora of things, but Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell decided to use the microblogging site to tweet an entire short story to his followers. Through the course of about 270 tweets, Mitchell told the story of a boy’s drug experience.
We get off the Number 10 bus at a pub called ‘The Fox and Hounds’. ‘If anyone asks,’ Mum tells me, ‘say we came by taxi.’
— David Mitchell (@david_mitchell) July 14, 2014
“The story is being narrated in the present tense by a boy tripping on his mother’s Valium pills. He likes Valium because it reduces the bruising hurly-burly of the world into orderly, bite-sized ‘pulses’. So the boy is essentially thinking and experiencing in Tweets,” the author told the Guardian newspaper.
The short story was spread out over the course of six days, as Mitchell started tweeting on the 14th of July and finally revealed the conclusion on the 20th. He explained that he didn’t make use of Twitter for marketing purposes, as the site contributes to the tone and feeling of the short.
“My hope is then that the rationale for deploying Twitter comes from inside the story, rather than it being imposed by me, from outside, as a gimmick.”.
As for why he decided to embark on a Twitter story-telling session? Well, he has a book coming up and the Twitter account was originally set up to promote ‘The Bone Clocks’. But just tweeting about the book didn’t sit right with him.
“It somehow bothered me, a little bit, that I was using this Arab Spring-size technology just to say, ‘Hi, I’m going off on the road, please come see me and buy my book’. It seemed a bit cheesy, really. So I thought, how can I sort of find a use for it? And this led me to fiction.”
But Mitchell isn’t the first person to use Twitter for such purposes. In 2012 author Jennifer Egan tweeted an 8 500-word short story, while publisher Penguin launched the Twitter Fiction Festival earlier this year.
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