The Parts of Fiction, in Less than 160 Characters

The age of hyperfast communication often forces me to be brief. So does the volume of e-mails, texts, and to-dos that make for a quick daily rhythm here at Threepenny HQ. So last night, I shouldn’t have been surprised that between rounding up mi pareja for Grey’s Anatomy, hurrying to get out of sweat-soaked workout clothes, microwaving a late dinner, and wondering if I had time to read a few more manuscript pages, that my teenage cousin Kelly sent me a text out of the blue: what types of things should be discussed in a writing group?

Text messaging didn’t seem like an ideal medium for transmitting a curriculum. More than ten 160-character texts would probably be excessive. But what a great exercise: What are the fundamentals of writing, in 160 characters or fewer?

Put to the text, I wrote, basics incl: is anything abt the story confusing? do i care abt the character? what is the author writing abt? also, what’s the main conflict & is it enough to care if it gets resolved? also useful to talk abt authors and pieces you admire, & why they work well.

Style, character, theme, and plot. Except for voice, that seems to cover it–and might I add what a proud cousin I am? Kelly placed second in her state for public speaking, wants to go to Yale, and is starting a book club. She’s also the fastest texter I know.

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