Author R.N. Morris’s Twitter Twisteries:
Murder Mysteries In 140 Characters

It’s not unusual these days to find authors on Twitter sharing information about their books, upcoming appearances and just being sociable with their readers. R.N. Morris, whose latest Porfiry Petrovich mystery A Razor Wrapped in Silk was released in April, is one such author.

In addition to socializing with his readers, however, Morris has thrown down a unique challenge for himself and his followers: he writes murder mysteries in 140 characters or less (Twitter’s limit, for those who may not know), his followers try to solve them. As he explains, he felt compelled by the challenge:

“One of the things that appeals to me about Twitter is the creative challenge. You get 140 characters in which to say what’s on your mind. Of course, for some people that isn’t a challenge at all, because it turns out they don’t have that much on their mind to begin with. If all you want to say is “Had tuna bagel for lunch, tasted a bit icky”, then 140 characters is more than enough. But I’m a storyteller by instinct. When I see an empty communication medium – however big or small – I want to fill it with story.

Last year I littered the Twitterverse, or my own section of it, with a sentence-by-sentence serialisation (let’s call it a Twitterisation) of my 2007 novel, A Gentle Axe. Insane endeavour. And now that it’s behind me, I’m not quite sure why I did it. I can only say it seemed like a good idea at the time. Having laid that project to rest, I tried using Twitter like everyone else does. Passing on news of my lunch options, commenting on other people’s updates, waving to strangers, and encouraging friends.

It’s all very well but I am a writer – a writer of mysteries at that. The little empty box on my Tweetdeck simply demanded that I fill it with micro-examples of my own chosen genre. And so the Twistery was born. A 140-character space just about gives me enough room to set up a mystery, but not enough to provide the solution. I leave that to my followers. That’s the beauty of twitter – it’s uniquely and instantly responsive. No sooner had I posted my first Twistery (A locked room, empty apart from the smell of decomposition. They ripped up the boards to find a corpse holding a strong magnet.) than I had a flurry of possible solutions. Someone even came up with the correct solution, or something close enough.

I decided I owed it to all those who had bothered to furrow their brows over my puzzles to write a full solution. Hardcore Tweeters will probably take issue with the fact that I’m posting the solutions on my blog, and that I’m taking far more than 140 characters to expound the mysteries. It just seemed to me that as well as setting my followers a nice little brainteaser, I had set myself a brief for a mystery story. And I wanted to have fun writing it. So if you want to know the solution to the Twistery above, click here.” – R.N. Morris

R.N. Morris is the author of A Gentle Axe, A Vengeful Longing and A Razor Wrapped in Silk, a series of crime novels set in historical St. Petersburg Russia which feature Porfiry Petrovich, the detective from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. To learn more about R.N. Morris, and to try your hand at the Twisteries, follow him on Twitter and visit his website.

Note: R. N. Morris’ Twisteries post originally appeared on The Thought Fox and is reprinted here with the express permission of the author.
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  • Elizabeth A. White

    June 22, 2010 - 11:48 am

    Some authors definitely “get” the idea behind social networking better than others, and Morris absolutely gets it… even if his Twistery tweets do make your brain hurt. 😉

  • Alan Harmon

    June 22, 2010 - 10:33 am

    I think that’s really cool that this author is embracing social networking as eagerly as he is. I really like his twist with twitter mysteries!