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American novelist tells a story over Twitter

A Pulitzer Prize winning author has teamed with the New Yorker magazine and Twitter to tell her latest short story, in what some would call a creative social media marketing campaign.

Jennifer Egan, writer of The Keep and A Visit From the Goon Squad, wrote her science fiction short story Black Box for Twitter, keeping each paragraph 140 characters or less.

Now the New Yorker is publishing the work, ten lines at a time, from its Twitter handle @NYerFiction. The slow process began last Thursday night (May 24, local time) and is due to finish on Saturday.

Although Ms Egan acknowledges that she planned to reveal this piece of work over Twitter, she said that the way she wrote it was far more old-fashioned than the sci-fi world of technology.

"I created it as a work of fiction for Twitter, but I didn't use technology to write it," she explained to The Takeaway, an American radio station, on May 29.

"I did it all by hand, writing each sentence in a little Japanese notebook, one sentence per square, over the course of a year."

That said, she did find that trying to write sentences in 140 characters or less definitely provided a fresh challenge – but one that give rise to some interesting results.

"I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea," she told the New Yorker on May 24.

She also said that she liked the way writing for Twitter changed the type of interaction she had with her readers, alluding to "the intimacy of reaching people through their phones". 

The creative Twitter campaign looks to pay off for both the writer and the New Yorker magazine, with the story already having attracted attention across the world.

The work will be published in its entirety in the magazine's next issue – which has a science fiction theme.

Posted by Jess O'Connor