The ever-prolific poet rob mclennan has recently posted on his blog a fascinating little essay on Twitter, and what makes a good tweet. mclennan treats the tweet as a literary genre in itself, one that is defined by its extreme limitations, bringing up the Montreal writer Arjun Basu, who has recently become well known for his 140 character short stories:
We huddled under the tree, waiting for the storm to pass. We're going to die, she told me, and then I took her hand. Pull my finger, I said.
mclennan segues from there into a discussion of what makes a good Tweet, not only in terms of the short humorous quips you see coming from the feeds of comedians, but also in terms of tweets like Basu's short stories, and other similar projects. The key, mclennan finds, lies in finding how to exploit the character limit instead of being limited by it.
Perhaps, [this is] simply another strange little writing constraint (or, “baffle,” as George Bowering calls them) to force a particular kind of writing, and to see what might be possible through the attempt. We write to see what we can come up with next. To catch that smart, peculiar twist or grand surprise or in what we’ve somehow written. Isn’t that what we’re all striving for?
You can find the full post here, and you can read mclennan's twitter feed here.