What Is @VeryShortStory?Hi, my name is Sean Hill. @VeryShortStory is a writing project I started on Twitter that quickly grew to tens of thousands of followers.
Yeah, it surprised me too.
How It WorksI ask my Twitter followers to send me nouns. The nouns that inspire me, I use in a very short story that I send out on my @veryshortstory Twitter feed. Since it’s Twitter, the stories have to fit in 140 characters. This character space limitation can be challenging, but it forces me to use my creativity to find a way to convey the stories in a small space. My best trick is getting the readers to use their imagination to fill in the gaps.
Why I Started @VeryShortStoryI have a background in improv comedy. I’ve taught and performed for over 20 years. I’m always looking for ways to take the things I’ve learned in improv comedy and apply them to the rest of the world. When Twitter came around, I tried several formats where I tried to get Twitter users to improvise with me online. I found it difficult getting others to go back and forth with me to create something together, piece by piece. Finally, I decided to treat Twitter like an improv comedy show where you ask the audience for suggestions, let them swirl around in your brain, then make them into something. That worked. People sent in nouns, I sent out stories, and thousands of people wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed them.
Can I Run Out of Ideas?Running out of ideas was a concern when I started @VeryShortStory. I worried that because the stories are so small that I might quickly burn through all of my ideas. I decided to find out and started writing. So far, the well of ideas has not run dry. I’ve written over 600 very short stories to date. Any time there has been a lull in my creativity, I’ve asked my followers to send in more nouns and that gets things flowing again. Within minutes of asking, I receive hundreds of nouns. There are so many of these stories that I would never have written if a certain noun had not been sent in to inspire me. It makes writing the stories a collaborative process and I find that delightful.
Why Poe?Lot of people ask me why I use Edgar Allen Poe as my avatar on Twitter. Poe is a hero of mine. We bonded when I attended Edgar Allen Poe Elementary School in Houston, Texas. He was a great writer and wrote a lot of short stories. I’ve read and enjoyed many of them.
What I’ve Learned
- People are very kind. Out of every 100 comments I get about the stories, 99 are positive.
- Grammar and spelling are really important to some people. Personally, I tend to go with the Andrew Jackson quote - “It’s a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word”.
- A lot of people send in the noun umbrella.
Want To Read The Stories?If you want to read the stories, they are available in book and ebook form. You can also follow along on Twitter and Facebook.
The BookVery Short Stories: 300 Bite-Size Works of Fiction Very Short Stories: 300 Bite-Size Works of Fiction It is published by Ulysses Press and includes illustrations.
Publisher: Ulysses Press
You can also follow along on either Twitter or Facebook. While your there, send me a noun. I’ll use the ones that inspire me in a story.
Facebook - @VeryShortStory