Twitter: Come for Taylor Swift, stay for #1lineWed.
At least, that’s how it was for me (among other things).
First and foremost, if you’re a writer and you’re not a Twitter, get on Twitter. Even if you don’t interact, the plethora of information, tips, motivation, and sources you can find is invaluable. If it were not for Twitter, I would still be submitting poorly-written query letters to agents who don’t *really* represent my genre. Thanks to Twitter, I have made some incredible friends, found mentors, and even connected with my editor, @MKeenanEditor, and publisher, @MoranPublishing. If you’re a writer and you’re not on Twitter, you’re playing Poker without Aces.
Twitter also has amazing events. I’ve seen several of them, but I only participate regularly in one: #1lineWed.
#1lineWed was created by @RWAKissofDeath, associated with Romance Writers of America‘s mystery and thriller chapter, but any genre may (and does) participate. The object is to post lines – as few or as many as you like – of a certain theme from your work-in-progress. The lines should be 130 characters (the hashtag is nine characters), but there are creative ways to work around that. The term “line” is subjective. When I first started, I stuck to single sentences, but now it is just the short piece of text that gets the idea across. Even the theme is optional, if you don’t mind being reminded every other post. The only thing that is set in stone is the rule against buy links. You can link your site, but if you attempt to sell your book, it’s not a WIP, now is it?
The first benefit I realized when I started to participate was meeting other writers. You get a strong impression of the quality of their work, their ability, and their competence as a writer. You also know that they are not a fully-automated bot account! I can honestly say that the composition of the people I follow on Twitter are: 75% writers I met through #1lineWed, 10% other writers, 5% fangirls, 5% public figures, 3% people I know IRL, and 2% misc.
It helped me find several typos and grammatical inconsistencies (not errors as much as instanced where I changed the structure of a sentence somehow but didn’t correct the verb forms). You are combing through your work at least once a week to find lines that fit the theme. Consider each of those an opportunity to proofread.
It helped me add detail, promoting “Show, don’t tell.” Many themes are sensory: “taste,” “smell,” “appearance,” “sounds,” “feeling.” If you think, “Oh, I have to sit out this week, I don’t have any smells or fragrances in my book,” you’re missing out on an opportunity to build a realistic world for your reader! It’s important if someone walks into a room and it smells like bleach, or if someone’s clothes reek of cigarettes, or their mouth tastes like peaches. It makes reading a more rounded experience.
It helped with scene transitions. “First lines” and “last lines” are a recurring theme (this week’s theme, in fact!). The first and last lines of a chapter are difficult enough to write. For me, they were especially difficult because I have a tendency to write my scenes in a vacuum; I hop around a lot while writing. My transitions are rarely smooth. If you read Two Guns right now, it will seem very disjointed for just that reason. The transitions must be sanded and smoothed. The last line of a chapter must also propel the reader into the next chapter. Last time “last lines” was the theme, it made me realize just how weak some of my chapter endings were.
The themes highlight certain aspects of your writing; They force you to scrutinize. If you pull a line for #1lineWed, and you are reluctant to share it on Twitter (and it’s not a spoiler), you must question why. Is it a weak line? Strengthen it or scrap it!
It is also a way to build your platform. #1lineWed is an excellent way to show off your writing, to give people an impression of your work and the quality of your writing, but without giving away too much. (Although that is a risk: Don’t post too much, or you may spoil the text.) It’s like passing out samples. I have several people who say they can’t wait for Colossus to come out, solely because of the content I’ve posted on #1lineWed.
If you don’t already participate in #1lineWed, I recommend searching the hashtag and taking a look at what it’s all about. As I said above, this week’s theme is “last lines,” so post the last line of a chapter or two!