Earlier today I hit ‘publish’ on the twentieth installment of my one-tweet-at-a-time ghost story, so it seems like a good time to review the story so far and think about where it’s going next.
First up, if you’d like to read the whole thing but are put off by the prospect of endless clicking from one post to the next, I’ve reproduced all twenty installments on one page here.
So how did this all start? And where on earth is it heading? I’m not a fan of the horror/ supernatural genre. Friends at high school would pass round dog-eared copies of Stephen King and Clive Barker novels which always gave me nightmares. So why would I even want to write a spooky tale?
Back in April, I wrote one of my usual 280-word contributions to Kat Myrman’s weekly Twittering Tales challenge. The picture, a foggy view from a train window, made me think of something ghostly lurking in the mist. A few weeks later Kat’s latest photo prompt sparked a connection in my mind, and I decided I’d write the next bit of the story… and then the next and the next. I didn’t have any idea where it was going, but crafting a tweet-sized snippet with a vaguely spooky undertone every couple of days felt, well, do-able.
About seven or eight tweets in, I had to take a decision. Was this going to fizzle out quietly, or would I try and keep it going? By now I was enjoying writing it so much that it wasn’t difficult. 280 characters equates to about 50-52 words, so 100 installments should give me a 5000 word short story (which, apart from a sprawling Doctor Who/Star Trek crossover fanfic which has never seen the light of day, will be the longest thing I’ve ever written). So I decided to keep going.
I have a rough plan to write it in the traditional story arc of 5 ‘acts’ – consisting of about 20 tweets each. Apart from that (and even though normally I’m a plotter rather than a pantster) I haven’t got any kind of plot. I did wonder if I should try and map out where the story is going, but soon decided that the tweet size story idea lends itself better to an unplanned story. There’s something fluid and spontaneous about the very nature of social media, we fire out quick responses to some things and others are scrolled past and gone in the blink of an eye. Something carefully planned and crafted wouldn’t quite fit.
So here I am, after twenty tweets of flying the seat of my pants. It’s not perfect – one problem I’ve noticed is the inconsistent weather. Where did that fog rolling across the bay in the first installment disappear to? But given my tendency to waffle, I’m quietly impressed with myself that I’ve managed to introduce my main protagonist, some hints on the back story she’s running away from, an antagonist for her to spark against, and set the scene with some surly menacing locals and a big old spooky house by the sea – in just over 1,000 words. Normally it would take me pages to do just one of those things. There’s something very sparse about this style of writing, which means it’s moving along quite efficiently. It may be too episodic and disjointed when you read it as one piece. Or maybe not. Let me know what you think in the comments – I’d love to know if you’ve ever tried writing, or have read, anything similar yourself. Where do you think it should go next? Who isn’t calling? Is Dark Eyes going to turn out to be a good guy or a bad guy? And – somebody please – tell me what’s going to happen next!