Narrative via Twitter
I’ve read a lot about narrative this past week, mainly what is a narrative? how do we construct a narrative? what does a narrative look like? This is good for covering the basics, but i’m interested in where narrative is going and it seems that one place narrative is definitely going is twitter. Now I’m not sure if someone has released a narrative film via twitter, which would be awesome, but people have definitely begun releasing narrative fiction on twitter, which I find pretty damn interesting.
David Mitchell (@david_mitchell) the author of Cloud Atlas released a 280 tweet (140 characters or less) long book entitled ‘The Right Sort’ over the period of a week, back in 2014. Now David Mitchell isn’t the first, or anywhere near the last person to release a novel or short story over twitter, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting I’ve read.
Mitchell’s story begins with:
“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.'”
Has this somewhere in the middle:
“Blood’s strange. We think blood serves us, but what if a human’s just a wrapper for its blood, and really it’s the blood who’s in charge?”
and ends with:
“I understand. That was my soul. My soul. It’s gone. Valium. Bad Valium. Bad Valium. Bad ”
It’s an interesting story about a poor young teenage boy (Nathan) on valium, who follows his mother (Rita Bland) to a party at a wealthy mansion then get’s into all sorts of strife, as either the drug kicks in or as his nightmares turn into reality.
How does twitter affect the narrative?
- The story is spaced out. Not only by individual tweet posts, but also by long gaps of time, sometimes by 10 or more hours.
- Most tweets contains at least one ‘beat’.
- This creates rhythmic cuts, in-between individual actions and motivations.
- Locations, actions, people aren’t described in a great amount of detail to ensure that an entire action, from start to finish, can fit into a singular tweet. For example, “It’s a grey afternoon. Rain’s forecast for later. Through a front window, I see wrestling on the telly. Mum walks ahead. I follow.”
- The cuts created by twitter size limits, lend themselves to creating continuous jumps between storylines. For example, within the story Nathan constantly switches between current happenings on, filling in background details about characters and situations and the current stage of his valium trip.
- Characters thoughts are added in ** and kept to a minimum, as a quick easy way to explain their current state of mind, or the undertone of a specific statement. For example, “‘Sure. My dad can put a bullet between a man’s eyes at a hundred metres. I’ve seen him.’ *Bet your posh ‘father’ can’t do that*, I think.”
- The casualness of twitter allows Mitchell to explore obscure, sexual, abstract, meta statements which never seem out of place.
It’s a pretty interesting story, very meta at times and very much geared to a young audience, so I’d say its worth a read, even if you just want to learn more about this “what if a human’s just a wrapper for blood” stuff.
Catch you later,
Louise Alice Wilson
Extracts from David Mitchell’s twitter account, July, 2014, found at https://twitter.com/david_mitchell.