Fiction in 140 words

Published: Nov 01, 2013, 08:11 IST | Hassan M Kamal |

Storytellers come dime a dozen. And with Twitter, a new band of writers have arrived, each quirkier and fascinating than the next. The GUIDE presents a few such really short story geniuses from across the world

Once upon a time, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a short story in six words. He wrote: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. It was marvellous and still is, but who could have imagined that half a century later, stories like this would open a new chapter in literature?

Shorter than the short stories as we know, with a word limit not exceeding 140 characters (thanks to Twitter), these stories could well fit into post-its. Some call them very-very short stories, others terribly tiny tales, and some like Arjun Basu twisters. Whatever the name, these short stories, haikus and poems, regularly published on the mircro-blogging website Twitter, have gained a huge following around the world.

We’ve found a few really short story geniuses across the globe, who’ve managed to set the ball rolling for everyone who aspires to tell a story in 140 characters.

@veryshortstory (Also on @Sean_Hill), Austin, Texas, USA

His Twitter profile reads, “Send me a noun and I’ll use the ones that inspire me in a story.” Created by @Sean_Hill today, the Twitter feed @veryshortstory is more popular than the author (with over 180,000 followers, and growing). Witty and intelligent, sometimes plain comical, and other times really sad, his tales are about love, life, sex, death and almost everything that comes in between. Based in Texas, US, @Sean_Hill has published his twitter feeds into a collection of short stories, titled Very Short Story, and is currently available on in both e-book and paperback version. @Sean_Hill also likes to write 250 words long stories, and has published a book of 250-word stories called Smash The Hammer available on


Till now, you have been reading about Twitteratis who have been writing stories within the limits of 140 characters, @Tweetybooks edits popular books by authors across the world into 140 characters. Now, isn’t that fun. While some authors may find it too insulting, especially since some of them spend a lot of time writing books, @Tweetybooks’ versions although a bit harsh, they are witty nonetheless. For those who find reading fat novels too boring must follow @Tweetybooks.

Never Let Me Go by Kazou Mishu
“I got an A+ on my organ donor card.”
The End.
— as edited by @tweetybooks

@ArjunBasu, Montreal
Born and brought up in Montreal, Arjun Basu calls his 140-character stories Twisters. He wrote his first Twister in 2009, and since then been writing all his stories within those many characters. From love, sex, food, family, home to work, he writes about almost everything in the world. For the author, they are not just a passion but an obsession. He has also published the book Squishy under DC books, and is currently working on his novel, Waiting for the Man. One of his Twisters even inspired a film titled, Life, directed by James Cooper, and won the People’s Choice Award at Filmminute Film Festival. #twister

He describes the wine as earthy. She puns mirth with dirt. He finds that “as funny as murder.” She says, “You kill me.” And they are married.
— a story by @Arjunbasu

@terriblytiny, Mumbai
Started just a few months ago this year, Terribly Tiny Tales publishes one-tweet-size tales, everyday on Terriblytinytales.
com. These stories come from twitter users, who publish these stories using the hash tag #ttt or #terriblytinytales, the selection being done by the @terribytiny team. Family, history, separation, food, love, sex and death… the subjects are vast. The tales sometimes abstract, at other times ice-cold bitter, but each weaves a story that would make your heart pause to ponder.

#ttt, #terriblytinytales

@BlueHaiku2, @Red_Sekhmet @DarkHaikuMoon among others
Haiku has emerged as one of the most favourite formats for those wanting to share their moments of creativity on Twitter. Not all of them follow the 17-syllable traditional Japanese format, but they make for a poignant read nonetheless. So, if you are a fan of the three line poems, you may want to check some of the authors including @BlueHaiku, @Red_Sekhmet and @DarkHaikuMoon. The popularity of haiku has led to the birth of the hashtag #twaiku for twitter haiku. But those whose writing doesn’t necessarily fall into the limitations of haiku, they go for #micropoetry or #5lines, but like others, they also do not exceed 140 character limit.
#haiku, #twaiku,
#senryu, #5lines, #micropoetry

The hashtag guide
While it was not possible for us to include everyone who writes very short stories and poems on Twitter, the hashtags mentioned below are useful when it comes to locating such writers:

#haiku, #senryu, #twaiku: Use these hashtags to read haikus or twitter haikus, hence the tag twaiku and senryu from across the world.

#micropoetry, #5lines: These hashtags will connect you with all micropoetry writers on Twitters, many of which have evolved and are limited to just five lines.

#ttt or #terriblytinytales: This hashtag will connect you all authors who participate or feature in @terriblytiny.

#veryshortstory: Connects you to @veryshortstory as well as other very short story writers on Twitter.

#funnyoneliners: Use this hashtag to read funny one liners mostly submitted by @funnyoneliners and its followers. 

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