Book Review: Hint Fiction

For a few months now, I have been writing 25-word stories and posting them to Twitter as part of the #25wordstory hashtag. I’ve been enjoying the experiences of this flash/quick fiction and more folks are now also writing and posting their stories, too. I recently picked up this book — Hint Fiction, edited by Robert Smartwood — and found it to a truly lovely little tome about small stories. Smartwood called 25 word stories “hint fiction” because the stories are designed to merely point to, or hint at, larger stories that are not being said.

“… a story of twenty-five words or fewer can have as much impact as a story of twenty-five hundred words or longer,” Smartwood writes in the introduction, later adding: “It’s my belief that the length of the story does not determine the credentials of the writer.”

Smartwood put out a call for these hint fiction stories and was overwhelmed by the response (from published and non-published writers), so this book represents just the tip of the iceberg of folks writing these pieces. There are plenty of great stories in here, such as:

The Strict Professor
by John Minichillo

A card in the mailbox: “Withdrawal: student deceased.” She remembers the name, the only essay in the stack she’ll really read.

And

The Return
By Joe R. Landsale

They buried him deep. Again.

And

Noah’s Daughter
By Shanna Germain

“Can’t you count I said two of each. This ” — he shook the squirming fluff of black and white in front of her — “is three.”

And

Ransom
By Stuart Dybek

Broke and desperate, I kidnap myself. Ransom notes were sent to interested parties. Later, I sent hair and fingernails, too. They insisted on an ear.

Tell me you don’t get a kick out those. The book contains dozens more.

Sure, on one level, they are quick read. But most will make you pause and think, and wonder about what is going on just outside your field of vision. I notice how the use of titles here (as opposed to on Twitter, where space is a real issue) makes a difference for some of these stories. Here, most titles are part of the story, and if you miss the title, you may miss the story. That’s interesting — how important the title is.

Peace (in more than my 25 words),
Kevin

Celebrating Veterans with 25-word-stories

vets day 25wordstories 1

vets day 25wordstories 2

vets day 25wordstories  3
As some of you know, I have been tinkering with 25 word stories on Twitter as a way to narrow storytelling down to its bare essentials. You have to leave more out than you put in. Yesterday, on Veteran’s Day, I got inspired to write a bunch of 25 word stories to honor the stories about veterans.

Peace (in the writing),
Kevin

My 25-Word Story Collection on Prezi

I’m back on my blog as I gear up for getting back to school next week. It’s been a nice vacation away from blogging, but I have been writing and doing other things. I’ll slowly share some of those things as the days go along. One of the things I’ve been doing that has me thinking a lot is writing 25-word stories on Twitter. This idea was made know to me by Brian Fay, a colleague in the National Writing Project, and you have to tell (try to tell) a story within 25 words. The concept fits perfectly with Twitter, of course, and there is a collection of stories at #25wordstory.

I’ve written about 20 or so of the little guys. It’s a challenge to lay the groundwork of a tale but use brevity in doing so. You leave out a lot more than you put in. You have to think in terms of hints and motivations more than character development. I am hoping this kind of activity will tighten up my other writing.

This morning, I popped them into Prezi. Take a look:

Peace (in the writing),
Kevin

Psycho-analyzing My Tweets

There are sorts of strange data engines popping up from time to time, and this one — called TweetPsych — supposedly presents a psychological profile of a Twitter account based on their tweets. I figured, what the heck … (and I did not have to give them my password, which always stops me cold in my browsing tracks)

The site’s study of me shows that I tweet a lot about learning, and media, and seem to reference “time” a lot (as in, I don’t have enough?). On the low end, I don’t tweet enough about sex and thinking and work (although, that would be learning for me, right?).

See my full report.

Peace (on the couch with the virtual shrink),

Kevin (aka @dogtrax)

Twitter This! (and pass it along your network)

I had the idea to write a quick song about Twitter, so during one of my last writing classes with my students — as they were working on writing their own songs — I jotted down some lyrics. I think I was inspired by my students’ enthusiasm.

Last night, I worked on the song with my music loop program and then recorded it.

Twitter This

I get up in the morning and I twitter all my dreams
140 characters is just enough for me
Then, each moment of the day becomes a Twitter storm
until the world is at my doorstep and everyone belongs
to

This Twitter space
inside this Twitter place
I’ve got a little bit of smile
on my Twitter face
Take me as a friend
or leave me out cold
I’m gonna keep on Twittering
until the platform gets old

I’m reading all my friends — the ones I haven’t met
from all across the globe, it’s a safety net
We’re putting pressure on Iran — let the China wall fall
let the information flow so we can all crawl
to

This Twitter space
inside this Twitter place
I’ve got a little bit of smile
on my Twitter face
Take me as a friend
or leave me out cold
I’m gonna keep on Twittering
until the platform gets old

If you like the song, do me a favor and send the link to the song (http://www.box.net/shared/5848z0cba8) along to your own Twitter network (if you Twitter and I am @dogtrax on Twitter) or blog space. I’m just curious to see how far the song might go along various network lines.

Peace (in the groove),
Kevin

Space: the new (literary) frontier

George Mayo, who helped pull together the Many Voices for Darfur project, is at it again — this time, he has launched an online magazine to showcase student writing. It is called Space and it is an offshoot of the YouthTwitter Project that he and others (including friend Paul Allison) have begun as a way to connect students together.

George is using Google Docs as a main platform for the online publication and students submit pieces of writing through YouthTwitter. I really wanted some of my students to get some “space” and so we joined YouthTwitter as a classroom account (for now) and submitted six short stories based on the Chris Van Allsburg book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (which I wrote about before and even did a podcast book review). I used Google Page Creator to put the stories on their own webpages and then shared the web addresses via YouthTwitter.

One day, I read a concrete poem that George submitted (about concrete poems, appropriately enougy), so I figured I would submit some writing myself — a concrete poem in the shape of a saxophone that I created a few years ago and share with my students every year.

Today is the first publication date of Space and it is a nice mix of student work. I would love to have my students move more into hyperlinked poetry (next month, I hope!) and multimedia creations (I have some burdening moviemakers in class). I think the digital platform holds some interesting opportunities for students to compose and publish for a real audience (always a good thing).

Space might even inspire me to venture into hyperlinked poetry myself, something I have considered but never pursued. Thanks, George, for the inspiration.

Peace (in publication),
Kevin

I Dream in Twitter: A Podcast Poem

I’ve been thinking about Twitter a lot lately, about the pros and cons, and I woke this morning with the lines of this poem dancing in my head. (Twitter is a network that connects people by asking them to write about what they are doing right at that moment) So I worked on it and recorded it as a podcast, sharing it out.

I would love to know what the Twitter friends think about it.

I Dream in Twitter
Listen to the podcast

I dream in Twitter
in 140 characters
that cut off my thoughts before they are complete
and then I wonder, why 140?
Ten more letters would serve me right
as I write about what I am doing at that moment
in time,
connecting across the world with so many others
shackled by 140 characters, too,
and I remain amazed at how deep the brevity can be.

I find it unsettling to eavesdrop on conversations
between two
when you can only read one
and it startles me to think that someone else out there
has put their ear to my words
and wondered the same about me.
Whose eyes are watching?

Twitter is both an expanding universe
of tentacles and hyperlinks that draw you in
with knowledge and experience
and a shrinking neighborhood of similar voices,
echoing out your name
in comfortable silence.

I dream in Twitter
in 140 characters,
and that is what I am doing
right
at
this
moment.

Peace (in poems and podcasts),
Kevin

Twitter — explained

Wanna know about Twitter?
The folks at Common Craft have done it again.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ddO9idmax0o" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

@Peace (in the twitterverse),
Kevin

Twittering Around on 2008-02-27

  • Incredible multimedia video on Darfur — gave me tears this morning. Wonder how kids will react? http://www.cfr.org/publication/13129/ #
  • @theother66 Snitter? What is Snitter? The words we stumble upon on our networks …. 🙂 #
  • Alerted principal to the Darfur Project and he is on board with full support. "We need to give them opp to write for the real world." Yeah! #
  • When I explained the word "genocide" to my sixth graders, the room went completely quiet. Our work to understand Darfur begins tomorrow. #
  • I’m doing virtual arm-wrestling with other teachers to get access to laptops for next week. Good so many want it. Bad that I want it, too. #

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