A couple years ago, startup publisher Serial Box launched with an aim to publish stories in a slightly different way: tell a longer story by breaking it up into manageable, shorter stories, written by a team of writers. Now, the publisher is experimenting with a new way to deliver even shorter stories: via push notifications.
Since its launch, the publisher has released a number of serials in recent years, including The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, a fantasy spy thriller set during the height of the Cold War. These stories are structured a bit like a TV season, playing out through 10–13 shorter episodes, which cumulatively make up a longer, season-length story.
In a blog post, Serial Box says that it’ll launch a feature on July 9th called Microfiction Mondays. Each week, Serial Box app users will get a push notification containing a tiny story: no more than 150 characters, drawing from the larger pool of authors who have worked on the company’s serials.
The microfiction stories will only appear as a push notification; they won’t appear anywhere on the main Serial Box site or on the app. Users who have the app downloaded on their phone or tablet — iOS only, but the company says that it’s working on an Android version now — will need to turn on notifications in order to get the stories sent to them, although they don’t necessarily have to have subscribed to a serial in the past. The move is designed to draw attention to the app, and to get stories to people, even if they don’t have a ton of time — or even five minutes — to read.
The idea has a bit in common with the short stories that some authors publish to Twitter, using the service’s short character-count limit to keep things brief — or, of course, the classic example attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Update June 28th, 4:15PM ET: Serial Box issued a correction, that the stories will be composed composed of 150 characters, not 150 words.