In Japan, mobile phone novels called "keitai shousetus" have become so successful that they accounted for half of the ten best-selling novels in 2007. Here in the Western world several would-be novelists are attempting to use Twitter to create the same phenomenon.
Some of the novels tweeted so far have been interesting and engaging, but others, sadly, appear to be abandoned. Will micro-format fiction ever take off here as it did in Japan?
Novelsin3lines - From Félix Fénéon, these tweets are the "poems and novels and novels he never otherwise wrote."
GoodCaptain - The completed novel "The Good Captain," was a story by Jay Bushman and was based on "Benito Cereno" by Herman Melville.
Mrichtel - Matthew Richtel, NY Times reporter, is experimenting with Twitter as a place to write a real-time thriller. His is about a man who wakes up with amnesia and has a haunting feeling he is a murderer.
140novel - A Twitter novel created by Molly Wood, Tom Merritt, and Jason Howell of CNET's Buzz Out Loud podcast alongside Leo Laporte, who suggested the idea when he was guest on their show one day. (Read the whole thing here).
DailyLit - This online book club site which lets you read books via email or RSS recently added Twitter reading groups, too. Now you can read the following novels via Twitter and more will become available when these are completed.
- TwitterID: DailyLitMagicK
Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
- TwitterID: DailyLitPride
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
- TwitterID: DailyLitSucceed
Tom Peters's 100 Ways to Succeed/Make Money
Unfortunately, they seem to have missed the concept of the Twitter novel altogether and are using Twitter to link to their web site instead:
Quillpill - Write your own Twitter novel! Quillpill novels aren't actually on Twitter itself, but use the app's Twitter-like 140-character-like system. You're encouraged to write and read novels from your call phone and they offer both a mobile and iPhone version.(our coverage)
Big in Japan Doesn't Mean Big Everywhere
Some of these efforts have been fun to follow, like 140novel and the latest "Twiller" from Matt Richtel, but could it be that they already have appeal because of the well-known personas of the authors? In Japan, the cell phone novels are making stars out of unlikely authors - like high school girls, for example, who were writing the short fiction in between their classes. Would a Twitter novel written by an unknown have the same appeal here? So far, we don't have a true winner yet. Perhaps this is one trend that doesn't translate?