Maximus Editus Challenge: the one good thing about Twitter

March 1, 2009

I don’t like Twitter. Like so many trendy social-networking technology fads, I find it masturbatory; yet another dispensable tool empowering narcissists to expend a profound amount of time inflicting random self-validation on a hapless world. Only without napkins.

Don’t get me right, I appreciate the celebration of self. If I wasn’t using both hands to type this, I’d be celebrating myself right now. But I digress.

Social networking sites, blogs and all related online venues enabling anybody to write endlessly about whatever they wish, regardless of how irrelevant to everybody else it is, are now a ubiquitous part of the cacophonous tide of distraction and obsession we find ourselves compelled by daily. The downside for writers, particularly aspiring writers, is the lack of limit. Too many new writers no longer got the gumption to edit what they’ve written because there’s no end to the page. It’s all just a scroll. What could have taken seven words to write effectively, succinctly and possibly even profoundly by electing to spin a string of words in a strikingly and memorable manner, now often takes a few hundred words too many to communicate same, but usually deflated of what lingering impact well edited writing often implants firmly in the mind’s eye.

Editing = good writing.

Which brings me to Twitter — that and the fact that crusty old white twits in The Beltway are now all atwitter about the discovery it exists. Twitter constrains the user to no more than 140 characters per “tweet.” Much like the SCWC flash fiction contest, in which writers are limited to no more than 250 words to write a story based on the topic announced Friday night, in whatever genre they wish, the limit of space provides one a unique opportunity to shine.

So the challenge is this: Write a fully contained story in 140 characters or less and post it. Whad’ya say? Write and shine!




  1. Joe Konrath challenged us to a complete story in 14 words or less. Here’s my favorite entry (that I wrote):

    “She gave him her heart. Well, not voluntarily.”

    46 characters (by Twitter rules, you have to count spaces) – ta da!

  2. Hmm…Interesting thoughts, Michael. I agree with you to a point. Using your theme, social networking sites, like Twitter, can be viewed as one big circle jerk. I do believe, however, if used with a strategic goal in mind it can be a powerful platform to explore. It is just one more channel to expose your message. What is irrelevant to some can still be relevant to one.

    Now, for your challenge…I’ll give it a go —

    Morning has broken. The sun’s rays flickering upon my face rouse me from my sleep. I stretch, smile and say, “Thank you for this new day!”


    P.S.- One of my recent “tweets”:

    Dr. Seuss wrote Green Eggs & Ham after a dare to create a book using fewer than 50 different words. True or false?

  3. I haven’t yet “tweet” ed or “Twitter” ed…but I’m getting closer…What I have liked all along, since I heard about it last year, is the brevity rule–the first thing I ever wrote was a haiku, a rigid structure I still adore (sorry Michael). The goal of writing both clearly and succintly is something long abandoned by many a bloggers. Who was it said “I’d have written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time”?
    Attempt at 140:
    The years they’d spent together stretched between them like an invisible tapestry…Now, with a word, the first thread became unraveled.

  4. How beautiful, Jennifer. I feel trite by comparison. Trite and macabre, but only one of those things really bothers me.

  5. I am with Jen on this, as a casual, occasional Tweeter, I think it can be an important tool when used properly, and with restraint. Also, sometimes, I think it’s okay to be egotistic, that a little narcissism is actually healthy for the soul and social networking sites allow us to be just that without being a total douche. For instance if you were at, say, a dinner party, and all you did was talk about yourself – well that would be very douchey. Well now, with the help of these MyBook or FaceSpace sites, you can be an unabashed narcissist sans douchery.

    As for your challenge, MSG – my head is far too fuzzy from a collision I got into last night with a bottle of Hornitos for me to compose much of anything. I will however share my favorite flash fiction story from the great mind of Richard Brautigan. It’s called “The Scarlatti Tilt”:

    “It is very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who’s learning to play the violin,” she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

    now THAT’S fiction in a flash. It’s from his book of short stories called Revenge of the Lawn. a must read.

  6. I’ve been posting haikus instead of tweets.

    coffee mug stained brown – lush lawn steams with morning dew – clouds fade pale blue sky

    onion skin flutters – flame warmly licks frying pan – perfumed garlic hands

    splashed damaged keyboard – replacement, bike ride away – work swiftly resumes

  7. I agree with Gayle on this — she feels trite.

    As for Decker’s fav, I like it. Unfortunately, it’s 26 character TOO long. But what’s important about it is that it offers provocative closure. That’s the one thing missing in the micro-story offerings: an emotionally validating or provocative ending.

    A setup is not a story. A story provides closure. A better story evokes the promise of more extending beyond its end.

    Redmond did a beautiful job of that. I respect her haiku sensibilities (but clearly story-centric leanings) and will berate her accordingly in the near future for being a hypocrite, arrogantly flaunting her extreme narrative leanings in my face. And I truly appreciate Robert’s submissions, but as Decker can attest, I’m not good with whatever that is that he wrote. Other than to admit that I like it, I’m too poetically disenfranchised to truly get it.

  8. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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