Roy Peter Clark - Writing on Twitter Notes

Ways to Make Room for Good Writing on Social Networks

-FBook 1st imagined by poet, Peter Meinke.
-70's - fantasy he compared to 'hunt for unicorns.'
-what would happen if all friends, those who never met, all got together.
-he wrote:
"They would look around and see themselves
no longer isolated
no longer points in the darkness pointing nowhere
but as links in a magnificent chain of
impossible flowers
girdling the world, and their talk
(they are all talkers)
would burst lie spray in the sunlight…"
-verse is 30-years-old.
-has feel of present social network.
-author - not much experience w/ social networks.
-concern is getting hooked on FBook and neglecting other work.
-NOW, says:
-FBook powerful as engine for social connection.
-AND, as engine for craft of writing.

-author experimenting w/ new form of communic./interaction.
-trying 2 understand what means to be 'writer' on FBook.
-cultural context is that many don't see social networks = acts of literacy.
-SO, author gonna share:
-his first impressions.
-what learned about concise writing
-riffing on the work of others
-theme building
-theme serialization
-developing test readers

Strategy I: Short is good. Concise is better.
-FBook update = 240 characters
-Twitter = 140.
-how be 'writer' w/ such small container?
-but all readers/writers experience:
-journal entry
-epitaph for gravestone
-song chorus
-news headlines.
-so, is doable.
-news people count available space per line.
-poets count syllables
-Twit & FBook writers count characters.

-"any metric of length forces a discipline on the writer."

-write w/out worrying about length and then use character counter to skinny down.
-requires attention to EVERY single character - each must carry its weight.

1. original message:
“I traveled to New York last week to visit my 91-year-old mother, Shirley Clark, and I’ve finally returned to Florida – completely exhausted.”
-141 characters
-too long - esp if want url.
2. first shave:
“In New York to visit Mom, who turned 91. Have returned home -exhausted.”
-73 characters.
3. second shave:
“In NY with Mom. She’s 91. Back home — exhausted.”
-49 characters.
4. third shave:
“Mom in NY now 91. Left exhausted.”
-33 characters.
-but getting to point of vagueness or ambiguity.
-match language to form and squeeze all meaning can from ea syllable.

-brief does not = concise.
-text can be short/flabby or long/lean.

-brevity for own sake can be form of dishonesty.
-leave out what don't understand.
-pretends that summary is accurate/complete when it's not.

-"concision is honesty, honesty concision" - John Simon
-honest writer expresses what knows w/ right words - and right no. of words.
(OBVIOUSLY, this guy's yackin' at those who are writers. I am not. This sounds like something that requires extensive practice. Ugh.)

-Meinke on short writing: - poet sees short form as advantage.
-opportunity to express wit and apply polish.
-greater effort than long writing.
-we prob can't find wasted word in Shakespearean work - but any good editor will find lots.

-abbreviations on soc networks - frowned upon
-BUT useful.
-Weingarten (Pulitzer Prize winner)
-complains Twitter limits prevent writing limerick.
-smart-ass author whips one off to make a point.