Ratha's Island 06

By rath8325 - Posted on 18 August 2009

Now came the challenging part, which was “Twitterizing” the tale. The first step was to take what I had written so far and cast each sentence into the 140-character format. We also decided to make use of Twitter's search tag function. These “hashtags” as they are known, mark tweets so that a search will list all tweets with the tag. Putting a “#” before any word or phrase turns it into a hashtag. I first noticed these during the 2008 US Presidential election, when #obama and #mcain became prominent tags.

Sheila and I decided to use “#rathafic” to mark the story posts. Since the tag eats up some of the 140 character allotment, we tried to make it as short as possible. Even with the short tag, the characters available for story posts shrank to 130, making the task harder. The posts would look like this:

“#rathafic_First sentence of the story.”

The editing process was a bit different from that used in tightening up a draft manuscript. Instead of a limiting word-count on the overall piece, each sentence had to be tightened and tuned. There were no strict limits on the number of sentences, although neither I nor the audience wanted the tale to drag out.

So I scrutinized each sentence for excess baggage, sloppy construction, passive voice, and other unnecessary verbiage. Long sentences divided into two or three small ones. Sometimes two short sentences became one, which was re-divided so that part went on the next line. Here's an example:

Original sentence:


"Bristlemanes and night-howlers might tear into the the belly of their prey while it was still standing, but the Named stuck to kill and waited until death stilled struggle and suffering."


Sheila, who was helping me edit, flagged this sentence as way too long. And it had a misspelled word. "Stuck" should have been "struck".


We used large colored type and comments bracketed in asterisks to tell each other about the changes we were suggesting.

Here's the sentence as it appeared in a very late draft (we went through drafts 4a to 4m, so there were quite a few).


Bristlemanes and night-howlers might tear into the the belly of their prey while it was still standing.


The Named ***struck***to kill and waited until death stilled struggle and suffering.***I took out “but” and split this into two sentences.***


However, if each sentence was an individual tweet, the narrative became too choppy. It needed variable length sentences to make it read more easily, and convey a sense of style.

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Join other Named Series fans on the Ratha Series Forum.  Hunt up information in the Fire Den, read the new Twitter creation, "Ratha's Island", or strut before the clan to introduce yourself in the Fire Dance.

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