Lessons from an Author on Writing for Twitter

With only 140 characters available, making an impact on Twitter is hard. This is especially true for professional writers and grammar police who can’t shorten words or omit words without having a small anxiety attack. I usually have anywhere from 50,000 to 80,000 words to tell my story. How can anyone possibly do the same in one or two sentences?

In truth, writing for Twitter comes with many of the same rules as writing a novel. Sure, we have to condense more for social media, but rambling in a book is generally frowned upon, too. So, let’s take a look at some of the rules authors follow that you can use for your Twitter posts.

Word Choice

You want your words to pack a punch while also using the smallest number of characters possible. Go ahead and get out the thesaurus, but this time you’ll be looking for the shorter options instead of big, impressive dictionary-busters. Believe it or not, that’s what your readers want to see.

Don’t Tell; Show

You probably don’t even realize how many characters you waste on useless words. For instance, if you start tweets with “I feel,” or “I think,” you’re already out seven or eight characters. Instead of telling people, show them. Paint a picture with your words for the best results.

For instance, instead of “I feel happier than I’ve ever been,” which is informative, sure, you could write, “My smile couldn’t be bigger,” or even better, “Dancing like a fool in my cubicle right now.”

Be Active

This isn’t a suggestion about how often to tweet. You should use as many active verbs as possible to keep people engaged while also cutting down on the number of words you need. You may not even realize you use passive verbs, but after making the switch, they’ll jump out at you every time you see them.

For instance, “We will be meeting at 6 pm,” uses the passive “will be meeting.” To make it a bit more active, say, “We’ll meet at 6 pm.” See how it’s more to the point and also frees up more characters? Make a point of finding any passive verbs in your writing over the next week. You’ll be an expert in no time.

Eliminate Adverbs and Adjectives

I know, sometimes adjectives and adverbs are needed to paint an accurate picture, but going overboard is easy. If you can change the verb to encompass the adverbs, you’ll be in much better shape. For instance, “He slowly and carefully walked toward me,” could be shortened (and punched up) by rewriting as, “He crept toward me.”

Keep Trying

Succinct sentences aren’t easy to create. Go ahead and write out exactly what you want to say first. Then apply each of the above rules until you have a shorter, more powerful tweet. You may need practice, and that’s okay. In no time, you’ll be crafting quippy, punchy stories in 140 characters or less.

Of course, we’re always here to help if social media overwhelms you. Give us a call if writing for Twitter just isn’t your thing. We have some social media packages that may interest you. We can provide as much or as little assistance as you need.

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