Filling the Diversionary Gap

Filling the Diversionary Gap

Glum commentary about the economy is everywhere these days. Whether it’s news programs, talk shows, or GMA, Today and the Early Show, it’s all but impossible to get away from people losing jobs, companies going bankrupt and leaders who have let us down.

What are we doing to preserve our sanity? Apparently, more and more of us are turning to inexpensive escapes. We’re renting more videos and watching movies at home. We’re sharing pot luck dinner with friends rather than eating out. And, of course, we’re spending more time online where such diversions as the YouTube video of Susan Boyle are available to everyone for free.

While these are undoubtedly enjoyable options, however, there is something missing. We have what might be called a “diversionary gap” in America today. Based on my research, there does not appear to be a text-based form of entertainment to help us through the gloom.

To fill that gap, I’ve created a new form of entertainment in prose that is both free and brief. You can access it anywhere and at anytime, and it will comfortably fit into the nooks and crannies of your day. I call it a Tweetovella. It’s a short creative work—or what English teachers call a “novella”—on Twitter. Think of it as fiction in 140 characters.

Tweetovellas are different from “normal” fiction in one very important way. Because the creative space is so limited, you—the reader—have to bring your imagination with you if you are to enjoy the story. In other words, a tweetovella is a participatory experience—you have to fill in the blanks created by Twitter’s constraints.

I’ve been writing tweetovellas for about three weeks now. I try and publish one or two new stories every week. It’s not as easy as it may at first seem, however. In fact, telling a coherent story in such a small space turns out to be a huge challenge.

I’ve experimented with the genre both by creating my own fiction and by reprising (or should I say, tweet-prising) the work of others. For example, my first tweetovella was a retelling of Moby Dick. Mr. Melville’s great fish story is a fitting tale for our times, but it was no small feat to cram his 656 dense pages of text into 140 characters.

Since then, I’ve written tweetovellas about an airplane that has to ditch in a river, a killer who selects his victims from craigslist, and other contemporary themes. You’ll find them all at I hope they provide some small measure of diversion for these difficult times.

Thanks for reading,
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