My brothers and sisters of the Twitterverse, we’ve made some strides, but I’m afraid the disease is spreading faster than we can contain it. Hashtag Blindness is a violent and fast-moving disease that may be infecting not only your followers, but your followers’ followers as well!
Worse, the symptoms are sometimes subtle and hard to detect. In my ongoing research to cure this hideous malady, I’ve uncovered some additional signs that one or more of your followers may be infected.
The Symptoms Grow Worse
To highlight a character’s habit, have them perform the action at least once every paragraph. Drive it home! #HorribleWriteTip
Chuckles were had by all. And then I see this slither into my timeline:
What are the names of your books so I cannot buy THEM!
For added mystique, it’s better to be ambiguous about which viewpoint you’re writing from. #HorribleWriteTip
And the response:
Hmmm….I think it’s better to be clear about it, no?
Never. It’s almost always better to confuse the reader as much and as often as possible. 😛
Maybe I should be more obvious [keep in mind while some poets follow me, most of my followers are fiction writers]:
For maximum effect, make sure all of your sentences contain the same number of syllables. #HorribleWriteTip
This one worked like a long-fuse bomb. About a day after I tweeted it, I get this response.
Worked for Shakespeare.
Ignoring the fact that sentences in Hamlet range from 1 to more than 13 syllables, I should point out that chief among the things that worked for Shakespeare was being Shakespeare.
But, it gets worse. Around the same time I was receiving angry responses to the horrible writing tips, I made the mistake of tweeting advice about “that vs. which” (which, at the time, I didn’t know had different usage rules in British English vs. American English). I received the following tweet:
I vote for for blocking obnoxious idiots from dispensing uninformed rules unsolicited. Just saying @NatRusso is kind of a douche
This was offensive in the extreme. I mean…uninformed?!?
That was followed by:
Who is this chucklehead with the terrible advice?
This made me start rethinking things. I mean, it was never my intent to upset Charles Barkley.
But I had a mission. I couldn’t stop! There are confused people out there!
Why do you keep sending me these messages?
I responded the way any rational person in my situation would:
BECAUSE YOU NEED TO LEARNIFY MY L33T KNOWLUDGE!!!
Ok. Not really. I would never respond to someone like that. But, it makes me wonder…does this person think that every message they see in their timeline is intended for them personally? That must make for one scary experience.
There Are Folks Who Get It
The proper salutation for a query letter is “Yo…check it out.” #HorribleWriteTip
- In Teesside that would be “Ow, Bastard! What’s this?”
- [While I don’t get the specifics of the joke, I definitely get the “upshot”, and it cracked me up.]
- Written queries are passé. Make an impact with an interpretive dance video that showcases your book’s plot.
- When querying, don’t waste money on good paper. After all, you might get rejected. #HorribleWriteTip
- Just send submissions on scrap. Use the back of something. Might get rejected, right?
- Had you not put #HorribleWriteTip I’d have taken that as sound advice. Why are you looking at me like that? What?!
Every character should have a catch phrase. Eg: My MC says “Booyah pickles!” at the end of every chapter. #HorribleWriteTip
- I was beginning to wonder about you until I saw the hashtag! 🙂
- That’s no reason to stop wondering about me, TRUST me!
Can’t get enough Hashtag Blindness? Continue on to Hashtag Blindness 3: Electric Jamboree!
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About Nat Russo
Nat Russo is the Amazon #1 Bestselling Fantasy author of Necromancer Awakening and Necromancer Falling. Nat was born in New York, raised in Arizona, and has lived just about everywhere in-between. He’s gone from pizza maker, to radio DJ, to Catholic seminarian (in a Benedictine monastery, of all places), to police officer, to software engineer. His career has taken him from central Texas to central Germany, where he worked as a defense contractor for Northrop Grumman. He's spent most of his adult life developing software, playing video games, running a Cub Scout den, gaining/losing weight, and listening to every kind of music under the sun. Along the way he managed to earn a degree in Philosophy and a black belt in Tang Soo Do. He currently makes his home in central Texas with his wife, teenager, mischievous beagle, and goofy boxador.
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I’ve experienced some #hashtag blindness & found it sometimes helps to put the #hashtag first, rather than at the end
Would you believe I tried that? The results were pretty much the same. Some folks just don’t read the hashtags, and/or they’re prone to knee-jerk reactions.
This makes me laugh really, really hard. And so do your HorribleWriteTips.
Thanks, Rosie. Glad you like them 🙂
Ahm, yeah. I appreciate your mission. I do, really. And I’m with RosieReal, you make me laugh.
So how to say this? First, we are all susceptible. With regard to your response the person who said, “Worked for Shakespeare” (and no, it was neither me nor anyone I know), you might want to see someone about that irony deficiency. I’m pretty sure that person belongs in the gets-you column.
Based on other responses from the person in question, I have to disagree with you on this 🙂
Too funny, Nat, made my morning 😀
Much appreciated 🙂
I urge you to never stop and never put the hashtag in front of the tweet. Those horrible tips always wake me up.
Thanks so much 🙂 I’ve actually tried moving the hashtag on occasion and found it didn’t help.
Pft, and here I naively thought you were being sarcastic with those tweets! How was I supposed to know you were serious? Thank god for people clearing things up with reply tweets!
I love it! I’d never STEAL an idea, but you may have inspired a variant on #TerribleQuoteNeverSpoken
Go for it, Laura! 🙂
I look forward to your horrible write tips. They never fail to get a chuckle. I will admit, the first one I read I had to double check in a WTH moment *smh*
Keep them coming. And remember to spam them on twitter so no one who hasn’t been on in over 5 minutes will miss them. *winks*
Absolutely! I’m going to change my auto-tweet software to make sure I send one out every 30 seconds now 🙂
Haha, glad you like them 🙂
There are a lot of people out there who’ve clearly had a sense of humor bypass somewhere along the line. Followed by an ironectomy. NEVAH mind, like you, I keep on pushing their buttons.It makes for a more amusing life.
You’ve got that right, Carol! After all, I have to get fodder for these articles somewhere! 🙂
I’m not surprised that so many people suffer from hashtag blindness. I occasionally use fake html ( and ) to indicate that that I’ve typed is, y’know, sarcasm. And there will still be people who don’t get it. (They don’t get it when I say it’s only to meet my “weekly sarcasm quota,” either. *shakes head*) On the other hand, people who DO get it will find it funny, and studies have shown that people learn better when they can laugh about what they’re learning.
Since I published this article, I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response 🙂 Now it’s become routine for 5 or 6 people to respond to my #HorribleWriteTip tweets with horrible writing tips of their own 🙂 I’m compiling a list of the funnier ones for a followup to this article.
Every time I see the hashtag #HorribleWriteTip on Twitter now, I not only laugh at the tweet itself, but also the fact that I’m sure there are loads of people completely misunderstanding it and getting angry at all the bad advice…!
I tend to tweet a lot of humour, so I’ve had my share of people completely misunderstanding what I was trying to say too. I think the vast majority of people ‘get’ it when someone is messing around on twitter, but there’s always a few who take things way too literally. And who obviously don’t read anything past the hashtag… 😉
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Haha, loved the Teesside joke!
It’s a place in the North-East of England very near to me and has a reputation of being…erm…rough and uneducated, shall we say. Brilliant.
Loved the post – I caught the #horriblewritingtips you tweeted but thought it was clear that sarcasm was the name of the game. I guess we should never underestimate the power of stupidity!
Haha, thanks for the Teesside explanation! 🙂 I suppose I should strike it from my “places to see” list when I’m in England next time. 🙂
Lol, no problem – and yeah, probably one to avoid if possible. Or drive through reeeeally quickly!
Wow. Well this one wasn’t at all what I had expected, but it gave me a good laugh.
I understand the humor behind what you’ve said here. I do. But is it alright if I take a brief moment to vent about something related?
I’m a literate role player. While I also write because I have the passion to produce a novel, most of my writing time goes into interactive literate role play with other people. For whatever reason, some people are so incapable of doing their own research on things that they need other people to write “roleplay guides” for them. I’ve even penned a few myself (my guide to writing a Deaf or Hard of Hearing character did quite well, and was written to counter a well-intentioned but poorly-planned guide that preceded it).
A year and a half ago or so, I ran into a guide that claimed it was improper form to refer to a person by their proper name or personal pronoun when writing in third person. Let me give you an example paragraph of what they deemed a “good” sample, and you can judge for yourself. (I’m the one writing this, but it’s based on the guide to which I refer.)
“The tall blonde walked into the bar and seated herself on the stool with a wave to the bartender. She smiled at the short, pudgy bald man who sat next to her when he offered to buy her a drink. He smiled back at the slender woman and paid the brunette who served the drinks. The short man laughed and eased the gorgeous woman’s whiskey in her direction.”
Obviously this is more plainly written as:
“Debbie walked into the bar and seated herself on the bar stool with a wave to the bartender. She smiled at her husband when he asked what she wanted to drink. He smiled back at her and paid the bartender and slid her whiskey toward her.”
I could have written that better, but no doubt you understand my point. #horriblewritetips exist, and it’s fun to poke fun at them sometimes. It also reinforces the horror of these tips to joke about them now and again.
Some people are too serious.
Wow! If one of the writers I mentor gave me “The tall blonde walked into…” version of that paragraph, I’d digitally slap them. All joking aside, though, in all my study of the craft, I’ve never found a bit of advice that claimed using proper names or personal pronouns in 3rd person is improper. I wonder what the justification of that statement is?
The “the tall blonde…” version is what I like to call “playing coy with the reader”, which usually ends badly. Either the PoV character knows it’s Debbie or he/she does not. If they know it’s Debbie, they’re going to refer to her as Debbie. If they don’t know it’s Debbie, that’s a slightly different story, but then we’d have to address the description flaws (particularly referring to Debbie with at least three different “tags” in the same paragraph).
I’m glad you liked the article, Becki!
The people writing these guides are often in their early (or sometimes mid) teens and therefore lack experience with literature. It’s unfortunate how prevalent such guides are though; They are damaging to those who would like to learn to write effectively.
Because people who give bad advice that’s meant to be taken seriously always call attention to its being bad advice by calling it that, of course. Even if one doesn’t get what a hashtag is, it seems pretty obvious from the context. My guess it maybe something pushes a pet peeve button and they’re off to the races before they think. Or they don’t care.
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