A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Advanced Tweet Tactics from Oscar Wilde

People use all kinds of tricks to cram their Tweets into the space of 140 characters. 'To' becomes '2'...'Into' becomes 'n2'..'Before' becomes 'b4'...Etc. And more often than not the Tweets, when deciphered, were hardly worth writing to start with. 

That's a shame because the best Tweets provoke and entertain within the same back of a postage stamp space. And the best Tweeters pull it off, for the most part, without resorting to typographical tricks. 

And today I'll pass on a few secrets I've learned that you might like to play with.

1) Start with a plain and loosely worded version of what you'd like to say. You may want to write it out first, maybe in a Twitter notebook, just to get it on the page. The main thing at this point is to clarify the thought.
E.G.: Let's imagine Oscar Wilde working out the strategy for one of his most famous quips--about smoking:: Cigarettes may be dirty and somewhat disgusting, it's true. But once you start, you cannot stop. One always leaves you wanting more. Which tells us something about--maybe the nature of pleasure?

2) Decide, condense and simplify. You can't have it all in a Tweet, not even if you're Oscar Wilde. In his epigrams, he sought to provoke and amuse...not to speak from the heart or go off on a philosophical bender. In this case he set out to provoke by means of paradox. Bold decision: leave out the whole business of cigs as disgusting and dirty. Link smoking with pleasure. Go further: 
A cigarette's the ultimate pleasure...Why? Think, Oscar--think, think!
A cigarette's the ultimate pleasure. Because it relaxes us and perks us up and makes us look very sophisticated. And each smoke leaves us wanting another.

Oh, dear. Better, yes--but no cigar. Worse, it's 14 characters over!

3) Play Scrooge now with your characters. Tweak your phrasing and your words. 'Ultimate' has eight characters and you're 14 over. Save, save! Using 'perfect' instead saves you one. Very good! Now then, that whole second sentence is slack and verbose. Leave out the benefits stated because they're understood. And 'sophisticated' has 13 characters, while 'very' adds 4 more.  ' Exquisite' has only 9 and suggests the 'very'. This frees us to make a point about pleasure never lasting.
A cigarette's the perfect pleasure. It's exquisite while it lasts--and always leaves us wanting more.

And how about that? We still 39 characters left!

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