“Scheherazade avoided her fate because she knew how to wield the weapon of suspense – the only literary tool that has any effect on tyrants and savages. … She only survived because she managed to keep the king wondering what would happen next. … (A story) runs like a backbone, or may I say a tapeworm, for its beginning and end are arbitrary. (It) can have only one fault: that of making the audience not want to know what happens next.” Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster
So, SUSPENSE is safe to survive and will not be drowned in a sea of gorgeous sentences and ungorgeous snippets of banality delivered as tweets. The ‘tyrants and savages’ of the brave, new electronic world shall not stifle a good old suspense-driven story.What a relief!
I don’t tweet, but perhaps we should create a whole new genre: The Cliffhanger Tweet; a sort of combination of the classic Ellery Queen one-minute mysteries and the old Burma Shave road signs; a denouement followed by a teaser in 144 characters.
There is a book called The World’s Shortest Stories, edited by Steve Moss, which contains a hundred or so stories of exactly 55 words. Because of the brevity, nearly all of them are suspense stories with twist or surprise endings. I used to have my creative writing students write three of them as an intro to fiction writing. A number of them were certainly as clever as the pieces that Moss had collected.