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The novel by tweet

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By Matthew Shaer
Monitor Staff Writer,  New York

Nick Belardes believes in brevity. He hews close to that hallowed maxim, beloved by middle school English teachers and old-fashioned newsmen alike: Keep it simple, stupid.

“People need to be educated to be more concise,” says Mr. Belardes, a journalist and novelist based in Bakersfield, Calif. “Every day, we get these super-long-winded e-mails. You can communicate more if you say a little less.”

Earlier this year, Belardes was cleaning out his desk drawer when he came across an unfinished manuscript for a workplace novel called “Small Places.”

He briefly considered shipping the thing off to publishers for consideration. Instead, he decided to serialize “Small Places” on Twitter, a popular microblogging site.

“It was a natural fit,” he remembers. “So many people are sitting in their gray cubicles, reading Twitter. They’re looking for something easy to digest. I thought I could put a smile on their face.”

Twitter was launched in 2006, as an alternative to long-form blogging platforms such as TypePad and Movable Type. The site allows posts – or “tweets” as they are commonly known – of only 140 characters or less, and users typically fall back on Internet slang to get their point across.

Most use the site to broadcast personal errata, from sock color to recreational softball scores to notes on the weather (“Sure is cold over here in New York,” one might point out.)

But Belardes found Twitter equally effective for fiction. Slowly, in fits and starts, he adapted the manuscript to terse, comedic tweets, frequently digressing into colorful observations.


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