Will the Twiller, a New Twittering Genre, Catch On?

by Staff

Perhaps the latest chapter in the continuing debate over whether the book is a dying medium will be titled "Twiller." A couple weeks ago, novelist and New York Times reporter Matt Richtel wrote a short post on the newspaper's technology blog about his new writing project, effectively introducing a new genre called Twiller. Utilizing the social networking and micro-blogging service called Twitter, which allows users to send up to a 140 characters of text at a time to people who subscribe to their updates, authors of Twillers—and Richtel suggests their number are growing—can write serial novels for bleary-eyed, twenty-first-century readers.

"You might remember the novel in its earlier form; it had a cover, and many pages, forethought of plot, editors and agents weighing in, and, oh yes, it generally had sentences and punctuation. And, finally, some poor suckers had to take the time out of their busy days to actually read it," Richtel wrote on the New York Times Bits blog. "Who has time for all those niceties? They’re so first half of 2008."

Richtel's Twiller is about a man who wakes up in the Colorado mountains one day in early June suffering from a head wound and amnesia. "Like his brain," Richtel writes on his own blog, "his cell phone only partly works: It can send twitters but the audio is broken." When the author unveiled the new format in late August, around four hundred people had subscribed to his updates, and one can safely assume that number has risen dramatically since the news has made the rounds in the blogosphere.

At least one of Richtel's readers is critical of the Twiller, however. "The messages read as if they're written both by a hooker and the murderous john she meets," the blogger wrote.