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Authors Tighten Up Their Stories For Twitter Fiction Festival


I will now attempt to introduce this story in 140 characters or less. This week, two best-selling authors - Brad Meltzer and AJ Jacobs - teamed up to tweet a story for the second-annual Twitter Fiction Festival - #TwitterFiction. There are a lot of people who've become really good at writing fiction in the form of tweets - also known as twitterature, seriously. The online festival for Twitter writers wraps up today. Famous authors, like RL Stein and Alexander McCall Smith, along with a couple of dozen amateurs, took part. Sometimes the story came in a single tweet. Others were conveyed in mini-episodes. Or sometimes the story, as it were, was pretty similar to an exchange you might see on Twitter between two friends. Brad Meltzer, famous author of thrillers like "The Inner Circle" and host of the History Channel's "Decoded," joins us to tell us more about his role in the online festivities. He joins us on the line from his home in Miami. Brad, thanks so much for being with us.

BRAD MELTZER: Thank you.

MARTIN: So, you and AJ Jacobs chose to create your Twitter story as a sort of back and forth. Can you describe the conceit?

MELTZER: They said to us give us a story that we could put out over Twitter. And, you know, listen, I could take one of my novels and cut it down into 140-word segments in bursts and put it out there. That doesn't mean it's a Twitter story. So, what we tried to do is turn our story into something that really embraced the medium it was in. We made an imaginary fight with each other. I thought that's how you do a story. You want to see some fiction? We're going to show you how much we hate each other.

MARTIN: The story - this is all about what the two of you would proclaim as your last words before you die. Can you read us a little bit of your exchange?

MELTZER: Absolutely. AJ says to me: Do you have a ghostwriter to work on your final words because you're so busy with your thriller factory? And then I say back to him: I haven't written my books in years. They're done by kids in Singapore.

MARTIN: A little dark humor there.

MELTZER: And, you know, the best part is, is I'm actually pretending that that's true.

MARTIN: So, is this just like a fun exercise, a gimmick of sorts, or is there some real value in triggering a new dimension of creativity when you write like this?

MELTZER: Listen, everything can be an art form. I can't say that what we produced was. But here's what is interesting. My canvas as a novelist is usually 500 pages. Now, I'm supposed to tell a story on what's pretty much a postage stamp. I do think as an exercise, it's fascinating, because it really makes you think about what it takes to tell a story.

MARTIN: What was the response like?

MELTZER: You know, I think the best response we got was some guy on Twitter. Again, it always comes down to some guy, right? Who just simply wrote: AJ Jacobs and Brad Meltzer just won the Internet today. For me, if you win the Internet, you're having a good day.

MARTIN: You're done.

MELTZER: That was it. I take my bow.

MARTIN: Best-selling author Brad Meltzer. He writes thrillers, like "The Fifth Assassin," children's books like "I Am Amelia Earhart." He joined us from his home in Miami. Hey, Brad, thanks for talking with us.

MELTZER: Thanks so much, Rachel.

MARTIN: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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