I don’t like Twitter. Now, I do have a Twitter account—two actually! But I never use the damn things. Why? Because I hate it. I feel like I never have anything worth saying in 140 characters. I talk a lot. I write a lot. I’m a wordy person and I love my words.
And that’s exactly why Twitter would be good for me, if I so committed myself to use it. Wordiness is an issue in my writing, and Twitter would be a great way for me to practice being concise with my diction.
Being concise is a good thing for a writer. I know it’s fun to create intricate yet grammatically correct clauses that make your reader go “wait, what did I just read?” But there’s something to be said for being short and to the point when it comes to what you write. Academia especially appreciates this trait. As a writer, it’s good to know your grammar and how to manipulate a clause, but it’s also good to get to the point.
And, actually, now of days (perhaps because of social media and things like Twitter), long clauses have fallen out of fashion. Writers are still capable of constructing complex-compound sentences, but they don’t.
Here’s an example from 1907 from The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad:
Every nook and cranny of her brain was filled with the thought that this man, with whom she had lived without distaste for seven years, had taken the “poor boy” away from her in order to kill him—the man to whom she had grown accustomed in body and mind; the man whom she had trusted, took the boy away to kill him!
That is one sentence from a brilliant scene within the novel. Now, Conrad’s story isn’t all made up of long clauses. He masterfully mixes short, to the point sentences with long, drawn out sentences to control the pace of his stories. I read this for a class, and one thing that other students kept coming back to was how drawn out Conrad’s sentences were and how he really made the readers work for what came next in the story. The story itself was compelling, but readers now of days don’t like that kind of work, and my classmates made that clear.
Here’s a more recent example from a more contemporary source. Margaret Atwood released a story on The New Yorker called Stone Mattress:
She could avoid him throughout the trip and leave the equation where its been for the past fifty-some years: unresolved.
Or she could kill him.
She contemplates this third option with theoretical calm.
In less words than it took Conrad, Atwood sets up the murder within her story. Her sentences are relatively short, clean, and concise. For modern readers, a more contemporary set up with more concise sentences than long, drawn out clauses is what pleases an audience.
Twitter can help you practice short, concise clauses. While some disadvantages of Twitter do include the fact that there are way too many teenagers and vapid wannabe-celebrities constantly bombarding the microblogging platform with idiotic rhetoric, the good news is you get to choose who you follow so you can avoid all that nonsense pretty easily.
Twitter is also great for small poetic forms—like haikus. In fact, of my four Tweets, one is a haiku.
Of course, my other three Tweets are promotions for this blog. I should really be more active on Twitter so I, too, can practice being concise with my writing.