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'Cloud Atlas' author publishes short story using Twitter

Author David Mitchell has released a new short story called "The Right Sort" piecemeal, less than 140 characters at a time.

Underwood, public domain

If you want short stories on the internet, they're not exactly hard to find: a quick Google search will pull up a plethora of resources and websites where you can indulge your short fiction desires.

Twitter, traditionally, isn't one of them. With a limit of 140 characters per post, the microblogging social network is more suited to pithy remarks and quick updates. This, however, has not stopped David Mitchell, author of "Cloud Atlas", "Ghostwritten", and the upcoming "The Bone Clocks".

Starting July 14 and finishing up on July 20, Mitchell posted the creeping psychological horror over the course of around 270 Tweets to the @david_mitchell Twitter account.

"The story is being narrated in the present tense by a boy tripping on his mother's Valium pills. He likes Valium because it reduces the bruising hurly-burly of the world into orderly, bite-sized 'pulses'. So the boy is essentially thinking and experiencing in Tweets," Mitchell told The Guardian. "My hope is then that the rationale for deploying Twitter comes from inside the story, rather than it being imposed by me, from outside, as a gimmick."

The Twitter account was set up to promote "The Bone Clocks", due out on September 2, but Mitchell -- who is a private person -- felt that was a bit of a waste.

"It somehow bothered me, a little bit, that I was using this Arab Spring-size technology just to say, 'Hi, I'm going off on the road, please come see me and buy my book'. It seemed a bit cheesy, really. So I thought, how can I sort of find a use for it? And this led me to fiction," he said.

Mitchell is not the first writer to use Twitter as a platform for fiction. Two years ago, best-selling author Jennifer Egan used it to publish an 8,500-word short story, and earlier this year Penguin launched the Twitter Fiction Festival to explore the use of Twitter as a medium.

And, in 2009, programmer and author Simon Cozens demonstrated how well digital media can mix with literature with a new, blog-style translation of "The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon".