Is Tweeting the New Research Paper?

Over the years, writing has changed immensely. Not only in words, but in structure as well. When I was in school, regular 4-6 page essays and stories were common. Go back a few hundred years and plays were more in style (ex: Shakespeare). Quite a few more centuries and you see epic (read: really long) poems (ex: Odyssey). The fact is that types of writing can also go in and out of style just as clogs do.

With the emerging world of social media, a new form of writing is beginning to rise. Rather than essays, English teachers are beginning to change their chosen method of writing. Teenagers are becoming so adept at turning long stories into short stories because of character limits that writing long essays is a mystery. In order to keep students interested and the classes modern, teachers are choosing to teach with social media.

While some litterateurs will forever scoff at these changes, there are also ways in which it makes a lot more sense than traditional rules and essays. One professor points out that when students are required to meet a certain page or word length, they resort to plagiarism, text that is too large, unnecessary spaces, long, drawn-out sentences, and repetition. The result is that the students are not necessarily better writers, but they can indeed write long papers, whether most of it is empty words or not.

An assignment that does not have a set length or has a short minimum requirement helps the student to write concisely and more creatively. And the best part? Students are doing homework every day without even realizing it, when posting new information on their chosen social media platform.

I’ve read stories of classrooms using social media to answer questions instead of raising hands. Students tweet their answer. Other classes give writing assignments with a word limit of 140; abbreviations are allowed, punctuation is optional. While some of it can go a little far, set limits are looking to be a great tool in producing great writers.

One interesting plan that I have seen is for the students to choose a short status update, tweet, or ad from the paper, usually one that is 10 words or less. Then have a discussion about what they mean, maybe imagine the story behind it. In turn, their assignment is to take a popular story like Cinderella or Harry Potter and make it into a 6-10 word story:

Unappreciated, abused stepdaughter, maid finds glass slipper with Prince.

In today’s world of limited patience and fast-paced workers, no one wants to sit down and read a long paper, essay, press release, or article anymore. As these factors change, it only makes sense that writing styles change, too. While I am all for a good long book, I like articles to be short and concise. If the students of today are leaning these new styles of writing, it seems that they may be more successful in a world of 140-character limits.

Author:

Megan Campbell has a degree from Clemson University in Graphic Communications, and is currently living in Germany during a Gap Year abroad, working as an au pair and freelance writer. Her degree set her up for a great interest and knowledge of social media. You can find her on her blog, balancewithadashofcrazy, or contact her via email at meganecamp at gmail dot com.

Sources:

Desperate Times Hits the World of Self-Publishing – Part I

For writers, the publishing world has drastically changed over the past one hundred years. At the top of the century, writers received fame and notoriety for their writing skills. Their skills combined with a bit of their own personal successes and tragedies, often rocketed them to the top of the short lists.

However, once the internet made its place in our lives, the publishing world was quickly brought to its knees. Hardcopy publishing companies of the smaller variety began to topple like dominos. Only the toughest survived and once through the fight found themselves with a new variety of beasts with which to contend. Self-publishing companies and eBook publishers have changed the entire geography of what it means to be a writer these days. I recently found one incredible digital author that agrees.

The Future of Literature

I came across a book with an interesting description not long ago. Desperate Times, by Nick Antinozzi proved to me once again why the future of literature lay in digital print. Nick’s story isn’t even my usual preference, but hooked by the storyline provided, I dove on in. Proof positive that a good description will get you somewhere.

Devoid of elegant prose or wordy fluff, the story quickly progressed into one I simply could not put down. Once I was nearing the finish line on the book, I began to wonder. Who wrote this book? Is this person formally educated? Where did he get his inspiration? Why isn’t this a movie?

So in my usual manner, I hunted Nick down, via Social Media of course. I located him fairly quickly by looking up the books name on Facebook. A Desperate Times fan page, complete with the book’s cover, was quickly located. I left a comment and twiddled my thumbs a bit, knowing how some of my previous responses for questions and interviews have been received. Nick quickly responded and there we began.

When did you start writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. By the time I was in my mid-thirties, I had read thousands of books and armed with my trusty Starwriter, I thought I’d take a stab at writing a novel. I had no idea what I was doing, but many months later I had some 300 pages that certainly looked like a manuscript.

Like a lot of first-time writers, I thought I had just written the next Grapes of Wrath. I picked up the latest copy of Writer’s Digest and I began mailing query letters and hard copies to New York. Some weeks later, I received my first rejection letter along with my manuscript in the self-addressed, stamped envelope that I had provided on the off chance that my contact had gone out of business or moved. The manuscripts came back unopened, but the letters were kind and explained that lots of people had word processors and that there was no room at the inn.

Undaunted, I repackaged my manuscripts, wrote a fresh batch of query letters and I tried again. The postage was killing me. Still, I was sure that if someone would simply read my manuscript, they would want to represent it. One day I got the letter that every writer dreams of. An agency wrote to tell me that they saw great promise in my work and instructed me to send my novel to an editing company that specialized in work like mine. Furthermore, the editing company acted as book scouts for the major players in New York and even Hollywood. The edit would be expensive, but it was necessary.

I said I never went to college, that doesn’t mean I didn’t pay for it. They should have addressed the letter: Dear Sap.

I would later learn that the agency was receiving kickbacks from the editing company. I was crushed and years would pass before I began writing again. I had learned a valuable lesson and it had cost me dearly. I began reading books about writing as finally dawned upon me that I still had much to learn.

When did you first publish?

I continued to write short stories, now writing on my trusty Compaq 386. I had made the jump to digital and I had no idea how much it would someday change my life. I now had access to what seemed like an unlimited amount of information. Years passed and I continued to write and research.

A good friend asked me why I wasn’t publishing my stories on a website. Although I knew nothing of creating websites, but he patiently guided me through the process and suddenly, I was a published writer. I began churning out short stories and I began posting them on my website with just a five-minute edit. They weren’t perfect, but I was living my dream and people began to find me and the stories that I had written.

That was when I decided to take another crack at writing a novel and Desperate Times was born.

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