Sunday, 8 April 2012

A Long Post About Brevity

I recently read a tweet by the highly accomplished writing god Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Coupling, TinTin... I know it's ridiculous how good he is.). Now the point of me mentioning that is not to brag that I have the cognitive capacity to read 140 characters but because the subject matter of the tweet. He posted a brilliant link to an online writing competition, which posed the fantastic question can you write a science-fiction in a single tweet. Preposterous I hear you say... well it's not and it's also part of a grand tradition of literary brevity.

Frederic Brown wrote a horror story in two sentences:

The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door...

That's basically I Am Legend in a hyper-condensed. The level of chops required to do that is outstanding. He's not the first whose had a crack at this kind of brilliantly short fiction. Arthur C Clarke had a crack at it with:

God said 'Cancel Program: GENESIS' The universe ceased to exist.

That's pretty good but to be fair Hemingway beats it for shortness with:

For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn”

But that's not even a patch on the always amazing Mr Alan Moore.

Machine. Unexpectedly, I'd invented a time.

But no list like this would be complete without the worlds shortest joke:

Venison's deer isn't it?

So how well did I do with my own attempts to add to this small genre of short fiction. Well obviously being me I spammed the ever loving shit out of the twitter stream so here are my attempts in descending order of length.

The lone survivor of a great people wanders the shattered, desolate wasteland wreathed in silence and solitude. Suddenly, footsteps!
132 Characters

BREAKING NEWS: RETRACTION. The highest levels of human society have not been infiltrated. Please direct any queries to an official
131 Characters

Locked inside this metal shell still beats the heart of a man filled with indescribable pain. They will feel what I cannot explain
131 Characters

Mad... Mad they called me. I'll show them, I'll show them all when THE MACHINE is complete. They'll regret everything the... BOOM!
127 Characters

In the belly of the beast soon I will die but I'll take them with me. Click. Click. Click. No! They'll be upon me soon. HELP!
125 Characters

The infection has spread. I fear I don't have long left. Containment is now the only hope. What have I become... Grr Argh!
120 Characters
Ship gone. Oxygen fading. No hope. Only death. Systems failing. Cold. So Cold. Remove helmet. Mercifully quick
111 Characters

Machines: On. Humans: Off.
27 Characters

I hate to sound immodest but I think I knocked it out of the park with that last one. Hope you enjoyed my brief romp through the realm of incredibly short fiction.

eddie <a tall short writer>

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