How Trolls Teach Writers To Hone Their Craft
Today is my first-anniversary writing online content. I could take this moment to thank all the editors who polished my turds or brag about my raining Benjamins, but that’s already been done by others with flashier screenshots.
I don’t do flashy. For the last sixteen years, I have only written for kids. And although children’s book readings sometimes inspire hysterical tears and red-faced tantrums, kids just can’t turn an ad hominem attack into a thing of beauty.
But these writers did. And I would like to honor them.
Writing tips from trolls
In no particular order…here’s what writers can learn from all the clever vitriol and praiseworthy punchiness left in the comments thread.
“from start to end you ooze negativity, condescension, superiority. even a dog or toddler can sense that. no flower will grow in bad soil.”
I like Greg’s use of active verbs. More writers should use verbs like “ooze.” And I always secretly wanted to ooze.
One quibble — I like that Greg’s insult took a poetic slant, but please make sure your analogies are accurate. Clearly, Greg is not a gardener. TONS of flowers will grow in poor soil — lenten roses, periwinkle, Oregon grape, bleeding hearts, gaillardia fanfare, and my personal favorite…the corpse flower.
I recommend Greg go back to third-grade and learn about rainforests — also pretty crappy soil. (And learn necessary capitalization too.)
“Good lord, “beauty can be a curse”, says the glamorous author. Please. This might’ve been written under a pseudonym (without the adjacent glam shot!)”
— Jessica Smith
Oh, Jessica. I understand your angst. But you have broken the cardinal rule of good writing — you must write from experience. Before using labels like “glamorous author,” you should accompany me on a typical school visit or book signing.
I leave my job covered in kid spittle and cancerous carpet dust from sitting on the floor because my audience is rather short. How many jobs require you to sit cross-legged on the floor for six hours while dodging spit?
Then there are the awkward questions. “Miss Beccia. Miss Beccia… Do you ever brush your hair?” (I so wish I was joking.)
And let’s not forget the kids who have the audacity to ask, “Miss Beccia, How much do children’s book authors make?” That’s when I am faced with the existentialist conundrum of telling them the truth or smashing their precious dreams of becoming a “glamorous author.” It’s tricky.
“One thing that stands out reading through the author’s other articles is that it seems she has nothing intelligent to say.” -Phillip Braham
What you might find intriguing in Phillip’s comment is that he took the time to read one of my articles, hate it, comment about how much he hated it, and then…read more of my unintelligent crap!
Writer’s takeaway — the more idiotic you sound, the more they will read.
“Three year olds are cute. Twenty somethings acting like three year olds is not. “— Delbert Freeman
This is why you should always read your comment threads. Sure, the improper verb tense is jarring, but Delbert is my new favorite troll.
Sometimes your trolls will accidentally compliment you. Twenty-something? My fortyish-year-old cheeks are blushing.
Just stop Delbert…you snake charmer.
“As someone who’s personally experienced plenty of the positives and negatives of physical attractiveness, I was hoping to read a piece written by someone who had real experience as well, not this tone-deaf collection of projections and biases. Next time, let your characters speak for themselves. Your writing will benefit from it.” — Arden Thira
Out of all the troll comments, this one kinda hurt. Is Miss Thira implying that I have never experienced the pains of being judged for my exterior? I have.
When I was a baby, I was dropped on my head, and now my misshapen skull resembles a horned melon. By my teen years, warts began bursting through my skin like puss-filled buboes, and I had to style my hair like the chic in The Ring to cover them up.
Now, when I walk the streets, mothers hold their children tight to their pounding breasts as their mouths form a silent “O” of disgust. I can’t have clocks in my house because they break as I walk past them. Do you hear that scraping noise? That is the sound of my clubfoot dragging behind my hunched body.
Perhaps I should have added these details?
Writer’s takeaway — write from your senses.
Holy shit. I tried to give her a chance, but the intentions of this article can be summed up in a few words:
“Just be confident, bro!” — ICircletheDrain
ICircletheDrain makes a valid point. You can summarize most articles in less than three words. And that is exactly how you know if you have written a coherent piece — the reader should envision the entire narrative arc in less than a sentence.
Thank you for your pithy observation, Drain Circler.
Lastly, I would like to end with the most apropos troll comment from the last year.
“While this article is poorly written, naive and, in parts, factually incorrect, this comment thread is telling AF. — Charles Tyson.”
There you have it, fellow writers. Read your comment threads. There is gold to be mined.