Aspiring writers take note: You don’t have to be an English major to write creatively or cultivate an audience for your writing.
At least that’s the belief that inspired TaleHunt, a new mobile application, released Jan. 1, that facilitates the creation and sharing of “very short stories” in 250 characters or less. This makes posts longer than a tweet, but shorter than what many would consider a normal short story.
The application has a simple, minimalist design, reflected in its logo: a quill and a scribble on a dark green background.
Once in the application, the user can immediately read other user’s short stories. At the top is the “Top Tale” of the day, determined by the number of likes it receives from other users.
Each story shared is accompanied by the author’s username, the number of likes it has received, a “Share this tale” option that leads to other social media applications, and a hashtag that allows the author to categorize each story.
Each author also has their own page, which looks very similar to a Twitter profile: username, profile photo, follow button, number of followers, number of users followed, and a feed of all of the author’s stories. The only difference is that these “stories” have 90 more characters than a tweet.
According to developer Aby Mathew, the application has 3,000 users, with projections of 50,000 users at the end of the first three months.
English majors, or perhaps those lucky enough to have taken a good creative writing class at some point in their academic career may have already been exposed to something like this, generally called “Six Word Stories” or “Flash Fiction.” This concept, though rebranded in an application, is not new.
The most famous example, put on a pedestal by most creative writing teachers, is a story attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
That’s the story. The end goal, perhaps, is that readers don’t have the whole picture. They fill in the gaps with their imagination or finish the story themselves.
So it is no surprise that Mathew and his co-creators expect 50,000 users by the end of the quarter because people have already been writing flash fiction for decades.
The quality of the writing currently finding its way onto the application is subpar, at best. This is most likely due to the low number of current users coupled with several users writing many times a day and monopolizing the feed. Other stories of a higher quality may fall off the radar.
As creator Mathew clarifies though, the application is intended for aspiring writers.
“We’re helping people realize their potential,” Mathew said. “Right now, most people don’t have time to read a novel. For example, if I am going to read a book, somebody has to refer me that book. Most aspiring and upcoming writers do not have that ability to reach more people.”
After taking public feedback, the developers decided to implement a “comment” option, which hadn’t previously been available in the beta testing of the application. The comment option opens up the opportunity for writers to converse with each other, and perhaps peer review each other’s work.
There’s lots of potential for this application, and there’s even the possibility that returning users could get the much needed peer review that might not be available to them otherwise. However, for those looking to publish essays or novels professionally, it might be best to stick to submitting to journals to find your audience.
Reach writer Madelyn Reese at email@example.com. Twitter: @MadelynGReese