A year ago, when I began posting regular writing advice on Twitter, I decided things were getting a little too serious. I mean, who wants to hear nothing but boring writing tips all the time without an ounce of humor? So I started posting…let’s call it less than good advice under the hashtag #HorribleWriteTip. A typical “horrible” writing tip would look something like this:
Commas should be, spaced evenly…every, three words, tops. The Shatner comma. #HorribleWriteTip
Obvious it’s a joke, right? WRONG! That seemingly innocent hashtag helped me uncover something insidious spreading around my beloved interwebs: Hashtag Blindness. I encourage you to read on so that together we can put an end to this soul-crushing affliction.
I’ve Done Something Wrong
To highlight a character’s habit, have them perform the action at least once every paragraph. Drive it home! #HorribleWriteTip
After some funny responses from followers, I receive the following tweet [names excluded to protect the guilty]:
What a moron! I can’t believe you’d suggest this! /unfollow.
You know they’re serious when they emote what they’re about to do gamer style! I jest, but this sort of threw me off balance. I had been trying to establish a reputation that people could trust, and all of a sudden I started losing followers. Don’t get me wrong…I was gaining more than I was losing. But up to that point it was a steady increase.
I started questioning myself, but in much the same way I approach everything else, I decided to just keep at it for a while and push through. I wasn’t going to let one negative response get in my way.
So I added another “horrible” writing tip:
Never a bad idea to include a nude photo with your query letter. What have you got to lose? #HorribleWriteTip
The hate poured in:
I’ve never read something so offensive in my life. I’m unfollowing you.
It was nice of them to warn me. If that was the most offensive thing they’ve ever read, they’ve obviously never read my work.
U shud be shamed. Many girl gonna do this!
You mean like publicly shamed? Or something else? Besides, I was talking to the guys.
You’re kidding, right?
Nope. Dead serious.
So I decided to try a different one. I mean, there must be someone out there who can see the hashtag at the end of the tweet, right? I added the following horrible writing tip to the queue:
Their, They’re, There…doesn’t matter. The reader knows what you mean. #HorribleWriteTip
You’d think I’d be smart enough to realize this was a bad idea, right? The responses poured in. They all looked similar to this one:
Your the reason quality of self-published books is going downhill.
Irony of the above response aside, I was beginning to get a little discouraged. No…a lot discouraged. I was just trying to give people a little giggle once or twice a day. I think I have a good sense of humor. I like to laugh, and I like making other people laugh even more. I wanted to share that side of myself. So I pulled myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and tried again.
Your character names should be no more than 1 syllable long. Why overcomplicate things? #HorribleWriteTip
The responses began to take on an educational tone:
No dear. It’s really a good idea to vary the names up.
Another response included a link to several recommended craft books. It was a well-intentioned effort to gently point out my “mistake”. I commend that person. They weren’t rude, and they didn’t unfollow me. I replied back and (in a humorous way) pointed out the hashtag. We both had a good laugh and moved on.
Yet another response, from an avid follower, politely suggested I drop the horrible write tips. This person told me that my other writing tips were wonderful, but the humor of the horrible ones watered down the value of the serious ones.
Where am I going with all of this? I promised, some time ago, that I would compile a list of the angry responses I get to my horrible writing tips and share them. Every day around 9am-ish CST I tweet another one (I have a list of about twenty that I rotate, and the list grows all the time). Pretty much about a minute after tweeting I’ll receive a string of heated responses. I’ll keep compiling them and share some of the funnier ones with you all here. After all, I called this article “Part 1” for a reason!
I’ll never “out” anyone, so don’t ask. I understand that mistakes are made, and we’re all human. Lord knows I’ve shared a good chuckle with some of you over this very subject, and we’re all still good friends. Hell, I make my fair share of mistakes daily!
But I reserve the right to attempt to make others laugh. 🙂
Cheers![I’m afraid the disease is still rampant, my brothers and sisters. Read part two HERE.]
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