Writers, by nature, tend to be sensitive souls. They pour their heart into every word, lovingly polish each phrase and hold the final piece up to the muse to bless. And the muse says, ‘It’s beautiful honey! I love it!” But sadly, the rest of the world is neither so kind, nor so careful of your feelings. And while honest critiques can be good for a writer, there will always be those who feel the need to tell you what they think whether you asked them to or not. These gutter slimes take advantage of the anonymity of the web to verbally assault you - they leave nasty, personal comments on your blog, they try to bait you into pointless arguments on chats, they trash your book on Amazon - these, dear writer, are Trolls.
So what do you do if you have a troll infestation? First off, don’t reply to them. Nature abhors a vacuum and so do trolls. If you ignore them they will often wander off to find an easier target. Remember, they want to wind you up, they get off on making people miserable, so don’t give them any fuel to work with. On your blog, you can always apply the Mighty Sword of Comment Deletion. It works, and it’s fun to do. Hah, take that Troll! (Imagine Errol Flynn as Robin Hood while you delete, I know that makes the Muse feel better, she’s a fan of his…work…heh.)
But sometimes, even if you get them to go away their hurtful comments stick with you. We all have that little scared voice inside that says, what if they’re right, what if my story really is that bad? Fear not dear writer, there are fun and easy things you can do to patch up your battered ego, and even come out the better for having encountered your personal boogeyman.
Here is my patented 3 step method to recover from Troll attacks:
The Zen Approach
Try to think of trolls with compassion – the enlightened soul realizes that pouring out vitriol is what this poor, benighted troll needs right now. There must be some pain in their life, some deep seated hurt inflicted on them that goads them to behave so badly. And you understand, you’ve lashed out when life has poured salt into your wounds. You, the zen Buddha saint in training, know that this person is not angry with you, nor do they hate you, it is instead themselves that they are at odds with.
Whoa, deep, eh?
Sadly, I am not usually quite so enlightened. When someone is being an a** I immediately want to borrow a hat pin from the Muse and play pin the tail on the donkey. Which brings me to step two:
Take a moment to contemplate the lighter side of trolls. Just who whizzed in their wheaties today? Did they wake up to find their pooch dry-humping their leg? Did the cat hork a hairball onto their lap? Go ahead, let your muse have some fun at their expense. Don’t let that lady-like exterior fool you, she packs a wicked sucker punch. And when you see those nasty-grams in your inbox, just remember: Opinions are like a**holes – everybody has one. Some are just louder than others.
Right, let me just hand the hat pin back and get the Muse to stop giggling madly so we can move on to step three:
Use Your Trolls Wisely
The muse is really into recycling. Everything in life is grist for her mill, and trolls are especially good when reduced, reused, and re-characterized. If you ever wondered how to make your antagonists more antagonistic, keep a file with notes about trolls. Real life is filled with petty jerks, and the world your characters inhabit should have them too. Just remember, no naming names. Lawyers have these fun little toys called libel and defamation of character – avoid them at all costs. Your muse is creative though, I’m sure she can find ways to use their character traits without going into recognizable details. Odds are if something makes you cringe or grit your teeth, you can use it to gain sympathy for your main character and build tension in your story. Keep your eyes open for trolls, they may be the inspiration for your next really juicy villain.
Okay, that’s enough from me, what do you do to deal with trolls? Share your ideas in the comments section, let’s try to make Troll an endangered species!
*Graphics copyright Angie Capozello