It sounded like such a cool idea. Short story writer and novelist ("The Ice Storm") Rick Moody created a short work of fiction designed to be "micro-serialized" on Twitter between yesterday and tomorrow. What could go wrong? A lot, apparently.
"Experimentation is how you learn but sometimes the lessons are tough ones," notes industry newsletter PublishersLunch. The chief lesson in this case: "Long-form narrative may not belong on Twitter."
Apparently the trouble started when literary journal Electric Literature (the publisher of the story, which is entitled "Some Contemporary Characters") enlisted 20-some partners to tweet the story simultaneously. The intent was to maximize distribution of the 153-Tweet tale but the result was cacophony.
PublishersLunch wrote: "The unexpected barrage of Moody quickly set off a stream of angry and mocking tweets from other users yesterday – and Twitter is an excellent instrument for spreading negative feedback quickly." PL quotes bookseller Arsen Kashkashian who wrote, "Is Rick Moody trying to sabotage what's left of his career in 1 day. Worst use of Twitter I've ever seen. Please, please stop the madness."
But she wasn't ready to abandon hope for future success for the format. "[S]urely [Twitter] is a possible venue for telling short stories," she wrote, "and Electric Literature is to be commended for splashing in with this one. But it shows that Twitter as a storytelling form hasn't been fully exploited – yet."