But You are not REALLY a Writer

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes a writer as someone who writes.  Whether that be stories, articles, blogs, novels, poetry, or the like, if you write then you are a writer.   In order to continue to call yourself a writer, however, you will have to keep on writing.  If you use to write but haven’t in a really long while, then you use to be a writer.  If you have never actually written down any part of that next bestseller that has been bouncing around in your head then sorry, you are not a writer.  In order to be a writer, you have to actually write.  That’s in the presence tense.  “Use to” doesn’t make you a writer any more.  “Going to” doesn’t make you one either.

Now you will notice that the definition did not say that in order to be a writer you had to actually do it full-time or get paid for it or for it to be your actual  job description or contribute to your income in any way.  Which brings me to another one of my pet peeves:  writers who seem to think that because we have not yet gotten a book deal, do not write full-time, or do not hold some type of “writing” job as our career that we are not really writers.  Sorry, that is just wrong.  And it’s also disturbing.  Someone who considers themselves a writer and is actually getting paid for it but does not know the definition of the word “writer” is an insult to writers everywhere.  Saying that someone isn’t a writer simply because he/she doesn’t get paid to write is like saying a woman is not female because she has not yet had children.

I had often thought that the majority of writers who thought this way were those who only wrote articles and other nonfiction.  My reasoning behind this is that a lot of writers who defend so whole-heartedly that writers who are not getting paid are not really writers come off sounding like jealous children who are angry that they do not possess the creativity to write something fictitious and must therefore stay in the nonfiction genre.  Recently I have come across a slew of mercenary writers who write fantasy fiction who seem to also have the warped perception that non-paid writers are not really writers.  So my observations lead me to think that, yes, they are all jealous of the creativity that others possess and are striking out at other writers for being better at the writing process than they are.  What I have discovered is that it is not just nonfiction writers who seem so jealous, but other fiction writers as well. 

Which brings me to my next point.  Why do writers get jealous of each other at all?  What I have come to understand is that it is not just writers who get jealous of others in their field.  Jealousy is just a natural human emotion.  It is only natural for humans to be envious of those whom they deem to be better at something than they are.  What I would like to see is more understanding and support of each other.  Writing is a very lonely and solitary activity.  No one understands a writer and their obstacles better than another writer.  We should be congratulating each other on our successes and encouraging each other to never give up, no matter what our ultimate dream or desire may be in our writing endeavors.   Instead, some writers will be little each other, call each other names, and try to convince each other that they either have no talent or that they are not really writers because it is not their evil day job. 

It makes me wonder if the reason why writers don’t want to confess to their profession is not because they are afraid of what others may think, but because they are afraid that the person they are talking to is a writer too.  Why would you want to confess to being a writer if the person you are talking to is also a writer and insists upon telling you all the reasons why you are not really a writer and all the reasons why they are really a writer.  We get enough people from the outside world staring down their noses at us.  We don’t need to snub each other as well.

Bret Michaels: A Little Girl’s Hero

The following article originally appeared on Hub Pages as a sit-down interview with yours truly. 

The following is an article based on an interview with the little known underground erotic writer Nicola Matthews. Nicola talks about her life, her work, and her personal hero, singer/songwriter Bret Michaels.

In the Beginning:

“I first heard the song Every Rose has its Thorn way back in 1989 when I was only twelve years old. Back then I had never heard of Bret Michaels or Poison. But there was something in Bret’s voice that spoke to me, a hidden sorrow that suggested that even though he may have lived a charmed life compared to most, that he still knew what it meant to suffer emotionally. It didn’t take me long to dig up everything I could about the band. I came to think of them as “my guys,” like they were part of the family or something. Stupid, I know, but that’s the way I felt about them. I felt a kinship with Bret more than any of the other band members. It’s hard to explain, but there was just something about him, about his voice….he could speak volumes by singing just a few lines. I think it’s that way with a lot of his fans. A lot of people will come across that certain singer or musician that they feel some sort of ethereal connection to. For me, it has always been Bret Michaels.”

“Bret saved my life.”

“I grew up in a broken home.  These days having divorced parents or parents that have never even been married is nothing unusual.  In fact, it seems that me and my husband are in the minority, having been married for fifteen years now.  But back then, people just didn’t get divorced.  My parents didn’t just divorce.  My mom up and left when I was eleven years old.  My father had just had a triple bypass done on his heart and hadn’t been home but like maybe two months when she left.  I remember my dad telling me, ‘If you go with your mom then I’ll blow my brains out!  I will, I swear I will!  Don’t you go with her!”  At the age of eleven all I could think about was who was supposed to take care of my dad if I left?  So I stayed.

Things were okay for a while.  But soon it became apparent why my mom had split.  Without her there, there was no one to protect me from tirade of verbal abuse that came from my father.  I know I’m not the only one to have ever been emotionally and physically abused as a child, but unless you have been there, you honestly don’t know what kind of mental and emotional scars it can leave on a person, especially a young child.  I was told so many times that I was ‘useless’ and ‘worthless’ that I began to shut people out.  I was very lonely growing up.  Every time I made a close friend my father would find some reason to forbid me to see that person outside of school.  It got to the point that I was too embarrassed to have anyone over any way.  The beatings and verbal abuse didn’t stop just because I had a friend over.  It was just easier to be by myself and pretend everything was fine.  But it takes a toll, you know?  By the time I was twelve I had already attempted suicide twice.

And then I heard Bret’s voice.  As corny as it sounds, I decided at the age of twelve that I was not going to leave this earth until I had met Bret Michaels.  In his own way, Bret saved my life.”

A Funny Story…

“When I was in eighth grade I had a very close friend named April.  She, like me, had a horrible home life.  Her mom was a nurse who worked four days a week at a hospital in New Orleans.  Now the story of how I got a backstage pass and ticket to a Poison concert was told to me like this:

While the band was playing in New Orleans one of the techies fell off a catwalk and broke his leg or his hip or something like that.  April’s mom was one of the nurses assigned to take care of this guy.  When she found out that he worked for Poison she told him about her daughter and her friend who were these huge fans of the band.  So this guy, who was nicknamed Studs, got her two tickets and two backstage passes for us for an upcoming show scheduled to be held on the Gulf Coast.  April, being the wonderful friend that she was, gave me the other ticket and backstage pass.  I was fourteen years old and might as well just have won a $100 million lottery.

Well, my life being what it was and my dad being the kind of person that he was, refused to let me go to the concert.  I had to give the ticket and backstage pass to April’s boyfriend at the time, Brian.  However, Brian was nice enough to get C.C. DeVille to autograph a shirt for me.  I had wanted a pair of Bret’s undies, but beggars can’t be choosers.”

Music Spawns Creativity

“I started writing when I was about six years old.  I can remember as a child that I loved to make up stories.  As soon as I learned how to write, I began to write down stories to amuse myself.  I was an only child, so I learned to read at a very early age.  Once my parents split up, I escaped my world of sorrow for adventures across the globe in books of all kinds.  I tried my own hand at writing and attempted my very first novel when I was eight years old.  By the age of ten I had tried to write two additional novels, without much success.  At thirteen, I began writing on a romance/mystery that I entitled Big Dreams and Nightmares.  It took me my entire seventh grade year to complete.  I would sit in front of my stereo with headphones on and listen to Poison’s Open Up and Say…Ahh album over and over again while I wrote.  The guys inspired me to do more than merely jot down my random ideas and thoughts.  It was then that I realized that deep down, no matter how smart I was or how good my grades were, I would always be a writer.  It was the one God-given talent that I had been granted, and I wanted to share it with the world.

You asked me why Bret was my hero.  It’s because no matter what life has thrown at him, no matter how dismal things may have seemed,  no matter how much people told him that he “couldn’t” he looked life straight in the face and said, ‘Oh yes I can!’  I guess Bret reminds me of myself.  I have been to the depths of hell and back over the years, and no matter what, I have always crawled back out of the hole that life had dug for me.   Bret Michaels is my hero, and I still refuse to leave this earth until I have met him.”

Personal Message for Bret:

 We caught up with Nicola on April 23, 2010 in regards to the brain hemorrhage suffered by Bret Michaels on April 21.

“My husband and I had went out to eat Friday night.  When we got home he got on the internet and saw the news banner on Yahoo!  He was the one who told me about it.  After reading the article I went into the bathroom and cried like a baby.  I was terrified for him, for his family, for his two girls.  I didn’t even want to fathom a world without Bret in it.”

MS:  Do you have any personal words for Bret?

“Bret, we are all standing behind you and praying for your recovery.  You hang in there, and fight.  And always remember that little girls, even when they are all grown up, will always need their hero.”

Original article appeared here:  http://hubpages.com/hub/Bret-Michaels-A-Little-Girls-Hero

Why People Don’t Know that I am an Author

Another blogger brought up a very interesting point.  She pondered the question of why writers have a tendency to freeze up, lie, stutter, or, in essence, deny that they are writers. 

When someone asks me what I do, I don’t immediately shout “AUTHOR!” because of two very important reasons.  First, I have an evil day job.  Writing isn’t a “hobby,” it’s my life’s calling.  But since I have bills to pay, a roof to keep over my family’s head, and children to feed, I cannot rely on my one true passion in life to keep my family from starving.  So I just don’t bring it up.  And the 2nd reason why I don’t shout it to the stars, and perhaps the most important reason, is that all my published works have been written under a pen name.  Most people don’t even know what a pen name is.  I’d have to start off the conversation explaining what a pen name is and why authors use them.   And if I said, “Oh, yeah, I’m an author!” instead of saying, “I’m the manager for XYZ Company” then I have people wanting to know what I write.  So the explanation begins all about how I write erotic fantasy.  Cue the funny stares.  Questions continue about if I have anything in publication, what did I get published, what is it about, etc.  And finally I have to explain why they have never heard of my pen name, etc. 

Then there is the fact that I live square in the middle of the bible belt.  Somehow I don’t think telling people that I write erotic fantasy fiction is going to go over too well with the neighbors.  It brings up the problems of parents not wanting their children near my house because they, the parents,  cannot seem to separate fact (what actually does go on in my home) from the fantasies that I write about.  Let’s not leave out the problems it would bring up for me at work since I actually do have an evil day job.  And I’m not even going to get into the whole thing about how men seem to think that a woman writing erotic fantasy fiction is an open invitation to hit on them.

I see being an author as a lot like being a spy.  I wouldn’t announce to the whole world that I am a spy.  And as a writer who publishes under a pen name, I am not going to try to explain to perfect strangers what my pen name is, what I write about, and give them a detailed list of what is published where.  The only people who matter, my friends, family, and most importantly, my fans, already know who I am and what I do.  Trying to convince someone outside that loop that I am just as good as I say I am (and not in any way morally damaged) is pretty redundant.  It’s just easier to leave it out of the conversation.  And if I think that I absolutely have to explain myself to them, it’s much more rewarding to pull out my latest novel, autograph it for them, and hand it over with a smile.

Word of the Day – antihero

noun – generally considered the protagonist whose character is at least in some regards contrary to that of the typical hero.  Can even include the antagonist if he/she/it elicits considerable sympathy or admiration of the readers.

A Byronic hero is a rebellious antihero who is sympathetic despite his/her rejection of virtue.  Antiheros often have several of the following characteristics:

*strong sense of arrogance

*very intelligent

*cunning with the ability to adapt

*suffered from some unnamed crime or tragic event

*troubled past

*sophisticated & educated


*mysterious, charismatic

*great power of seduction

*socially & sexually dominant

*emotional conflict

*dark attributes


*disrespectful to authority

Say it Isn’t So! Truth in Creative Writing

As often is the case, a raging argument in an open forum has fueled the thought behind this article.  A very outspoken member of an adult entertainment site has brought up an intriguing question.  “If a story is labeled as ‘true,’ did the author label it as such because he/she wanted the reader to believe that it was actually a true story?”

Readers, of course, will automatically tell you the answer to this question is “yes.”  As readers, people expect that when something is labeled as ‘true’ then it will be 100% true.  Whether what they are reading is for entertainment as in a novel, a newspaper article, an encyclopedia, or a history book, readers expect that every single word, event, and opinion written will be nothing but the truth.

As writers, we often see this view as being a bit naive on the reader’s part.  Of course, the reason why we think this way is because as writers, we know that not every single word written, even in nonfiction, will be  100% truth.  This is because truth is subjective to whoever is telling the story.  Take for instance the American Revolutionary War.  While certain parts of the story will remain true regardless (such as dates, places, and people), other parts of the story are subjective depending on whose point of view the story is being told from.  The retelling of the history of the American Revolutionary War will differ greatly from the point of view of the British as compared to that of the Americans.  Likewise, the story will be different between classes of Americans. 

Consider a news article in a local paper.  Journalists decide which events to include in an article, how much information to include, which names to keep and which items have no merit on the subject at hand.  What results is NOT the entire truth from all sides, yet the article is considered to be 100% true.  The point is that truth is not always 100% true.

As writers, we already know this.  We know that writers embellish, even when writing about ‘true’ events.  Moreover, writers know a good marketing ploy when they come across one.  Writers will often have novels and stories labeled/marketed as ‘true’ events or ‘based on true’ events or people, even when a large portion of the story has been fabricated.  We do it for shock value.  A novel about a murder mystery is interesting, but thanks to the animalistic part of our human nature, a murder mystery based on true events intrigues us as a fictional story never could.  It will get more reads, sell more books, and get more publicity than its fictional counterpart.  It is a marketing ruse that has been used for decades. 

Unfortunately, as simplistic as it is, readers just simply do not understand the use of this in the literary world.  They expect that anything labeled as ‘true’ should be true down to the last word on the page.  Even more importantly, they not only expect it, but they believe wholeheartedly that it is the truth.  And the backlash for discovering that an author lied to them can be huge.

This begs the question of whether or not authors should label a story as ‘true’ if even the smallest part of it has been fabricated or embellished.  That will ultimately be the decision of the author and the story in question.  As I have pointed out, even nonfiction books are not completely, 100% truth.  As far as the literary world is concerned, some true stories will be categorized as fiction while others will fit in the nonfiction category. 

A fellow forum member made an interesting point.  Whenever someone reads a ‘true’ story, they make common sense decisions about that story.  One reader will read a story labeled as ‘true’ and believe every single word of it.  Another reader will read the same story and think, “That’s a crock of shit!  Half of that isn’t even true!” 

Interestingly enough, the literary world does not consider all nonfiction works to be true.  Also, there is a branch of fiction, called semi-fiction, that “based on a true story” themes go into.  So even “true” stories are not considered full on actual fact.

The original question behind this article was ” If a story is labeled as ‘true,’ did the author label it as such because he/she wanted the reader to believe that it was actually a true story?”  Since some readers will think a story is true while others will know better, I think that asking this single question is like taking a post out of context.  The real argument would be “Are all true stories really 100% true?  If an author labels a story as ‘true,’ does that author want the reader to believe that it really happened?  So are all stories labeled as ‘true’ really 100% true?”

If asked “Are all true stories really 100% true?,”  99% of readers will say, “No!”  That’s because we have all heard someone start a story off by telling us, “Now this really happened!”  and then proceed to tell us some story that they read or heard elsewhere.  In this context, we usually think to ourselves, “Sure it is.”  And usually after hearing the story, we decide that a good portion of the story did not actually happen the way it was recounted.  This same principle applies to writing.  Just because it is written down and the author labels a book as “This is a true story” does not make it is any more true than an oral recount heard from your best friend. 

When taking in the entire argument, the original question is meaningless without the other two questions.  And by asking all 3 questions together, it helps readers to make the connection that no, not all stories labeled as ‘true’ are going to be true anymore than someone telling you a story is true is going to make it true.  It also helps them to realize that authors do not label stories to proclaim them as truth, but to make the readers believe that it could happen in some form at some time to some person.  Because if writers can make their readers really think that they are a serial killer living their life out in secret in Montana, then not only does the writer deserve commendation, but the readers who believed it deserve to be considered a bunch of naive, uneducated, nitwits.

Are People Just not that Creative Any More?

Today I got a very interesting PM from a fan.   It was in regards to an ongoing little novelette that I had written called “Vindictus, the Dark Lord.”  This was a little story that I had actually started writing on 3 separate occasions, with 3 different takes on the storyline.  I ended up taking pieces from all 3 different parts and wove them into this one tale.  As the story progresses, there are a few flashes of “history” regarding this make-believe world and the characters in it.  It wasn’t anything all that great or special in my eyes, although I did put a good bit of thought and effort into the history behind this story and a lot of time and energy into the creation of the characters.  What had started off as something that I had jotted down and pushed to the back of my mind soon became a story that had fans begging for more.

I have had dozens of comments on this story, all kind-hearted words of enthusiasm and encouragement, and quite a few, “Please!  Write more!  I love this!”  My PM from today was more of the same, for the most part.  Except that it wasn’t all entirely praise.  The reader had made the comment that I had gotten quite a few myths and legends wrong in the story.  I replied with a polite thank you and informed the reader that the story had not been taken from any myth or legend that I was aware of, and if it did resemble something else from Greek mythology, then it was purely coincidental on my part.  After all, I have never studied any of the mythologies of the world. 

I am not saying that I am original in all of my works, because with several billion people on this planet it is really hard to come up with anything that is completely unique any more.  I do put forth a lot of effort and thought into my stories, the plotlines of those stories, the characters, and even the world and culture that the characters live in.  Often times the world gets created before the characters do.  I realize, however, that there are going to be a lot of books and stories out there that are going to sound a lot alike.  But this statement from one of my readers got me to wondering.  Are people really getting to the point where they would rather rip-off someone else’s hard work than come up with their own creation?  Or have readers gotten so use to reading stories that all sound alike that when a writer actually does come up with something remotely unique, the reader immediately assumes that it has been taken from some mythology or legend of old?

It makes me wonder what ever happened to writers depending upon their own creativity and convictions to come up with something that no one else has ever thought of.  It use to be an embarrassment for a writer to come up with anything that remotely resembled any other author’s work.  They would rather cut off their own finger than have a critic compare their work to something else that had already been done.  Writers use to take pride in exercising their creativity and coming up with something so very unique and surprising that the literary world would be forced to take pause. 

Now days it seems that writers either don’t want to take the time and put forth the energy required to come up with their own ideas, or they simply cannot get in touch with the creativity and imagination that it takes to be a really great writer.   Someone had made mention that we were educating our children right out of their creativity.  I believe that perhaps we are, to some extent.

My music appreciation instructor posed the question, “Do you think that Mozart would have been as good of a musician or accomplished all that he had if he had been born in the 20th century?”  My response was, “No.”  While I believe that the raw musical talent would have been there, I do not believe he would have become the master musician that he was if he had been educated in today’s society.  We spend so much time trying to make our children “more well-rounded” that we are, in fact, educating them right out of their creativity.  We no longer try to teach them to “think for themselves” when it comes to creativity, only to do their own work and not copy their neighbor’s test.  Creativity, in today’s world, is being able to put a positive spin on a business’ latest bad publicity.  We are so wrapped up in pushing “facts” onto our children and insisting that they stick to nothing but the “facts” that they are ceasing to be able to come up with a single creative thought on their own.  We are, in essence, trading phenomenal natural talent and creativity for the ability to write computer software programs and build large monetary empires out of a well-planned idea.

With so few writers being encouraged to “think outside the paragraph” and come up with their own ideas, it’s no wonder that a huge portion of today’s literature all sound like spin-offs from the same plotline.   I’m not saying that you can’t write about vampires because all the “good” ideas have already been thought of.  The whole point behind being creative is to look at what others have not already come up with.  If everyone is writing about vampires and werewolves and you know this would be a great hit, why not flex your creativity muscle and try thinking of something unique that would stand out.  Create a whole new species, try a plotline that no one else has ever thought of, or toss in every single element every written about the idea and weave it into one epic novel.  Don’t be afraid to take risks because you think no one would be interested.  If Bram Stoker had not taken a risk and bet the bank on the fact that females would fall in love with an undead walking body that sucks blood to remain active, then our subsequent beating hearts would never know the beauty that is Edward Cullen.

In today’s literary world, finding your voice and speaking up loud and clear will help to separate you from the sea of mediocrity that is the publishing business.  Don’t be afraid to try out new ideas, to think outside the paragraph, to give rise to that frightful creature who impregnates his victims with a phallus tongue.  Variety is, after all, the spice of life.  Unless, of course, you don’t mind your readers asking you which myth you stole your ideas from.

Why Try to Fit in When You were Born to Stand Out

A lot of today’s writers have forgotten some very basic words of wisdom when it comes to being a writer:  be the best writer that you can be.  Unfortunately, a lot of writers do not fully understand this concept.  Some are so busy chasing around someone else’s fabulous ideas or trying to figure out what ‘the next big thing’ is going to be in literature that they have forgotten that the best thing they can do as a writer is to forget what everyone else is doing, thinking, saying, and writing and just write like you.  A wise (and experienced) writer knows that the best way to get known is to not fit in with other literary greats, but to stand out from them.

I had pointed out that as a writer, you do not really want to be known as the next “insert famous-writer’s-name here.”  Do you really want to be hailed as the next “Stephanie Meyer?”  If you answered yes to this question, then you need to take a step back and have a really long, hard look at your writing style and efforts.  If you are being compared to an already well-known writer, then no one is going to pay attention to your name.  All they are going to see if the famous author’s name.  And if, by some miracle, they run out and purchase your work because they happen to be a fan of Stephanie Meyer’s, imagine their disappointment  when they read your words and discover that you do not write exactly like Stephanie Meyer.  After all, there is only one Stephanie Meyer.  No one will ever write exactly like her but, well, her.  Anyone else is going to be just a very poor imitation of her writing style.  So readers who took a chance on your words because critics were happily comparing your writing style to hers will be very quick (and very vocal) to point out that you are merely a poor imitation of Stephanie Meyer.  Do you honestly think that readers will want a poor replacement for their favorite author when they can just sit down and read the words directly from the horse’s mouth?

Where does that leave writers?  Think of your favorite authors and their writing styles.  The best thing you can do as a writer is forget how they write.  You are not trying to write their next great novel for them.  You must write the way that you feel comfortable with.  If that means run-on sentences and fragments from time to time, then embrace that style and own it.  If you prefer writing in absolutely perfect English that would make any English professor beam with pride, then do so with gusto.  Whatever your style of writing, you have to claim it as your own and run with it.  Stop trying to sound like other writers who you look up to.  Sounding like Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton or Charlene Harris is not going to get you as far in the publishing world as you may think.  While it may seem like a good thing in the beginning, as a writer, you must have the ability to see past the edge of your nose and into the future.  What happens when 100 unhappy readers have told two dozen people apiece that you suck and sound nothing like Stephanie Meyer?  How long do you think it will take critics to turn against you and start calling you what your readers already know:  that you really are a poor imitation of an already famous author?

Great storytelling doesn’t mean dead-on perfect English.  There can be beauty in the flaws of your writing.  But only if you take your flaws and use them to your advantage.  Otherwise, you are just going to be known for imitating someone else’s words.

Word of the Day

Just for shits and giggles, I thought I would start incorporating a “word of the day” to help the average reader learn the intriguing lingo of the writer/author/blogger.  With time constraints, this may become more like a “word of the week,” but you get the general idea.

So today’s word is “troll.”  troll-noun-an attention whore who hides behind the anonymity of the internet and visits written works (articles, blogs, stories, novels, websites, etc) with the sole purpose of leaving comments that are designed to belittle, harass, or otherwise annoy the writer and/or other readers.

“My blog was bombed by a troll today who kept insisting that he knew more about creative writing than me.  The troll admitted that he was not actually a writer, but refused to admit that someone with twenty-eight years of experience might accidently know more about the subject than him.”

7 Signs of Trolling

The signs of a devious little troll out to trash your work are all around you.  Sometimes they are so glaringly obvious that it’s hard to not see them.  Other times the slippery little devils will sneak a trolling comment in without you realizing it.  Whatever type of troll or trolling comments you may get, there are a few signs that will clue you in on whether or not you have been trolled.

1.  incoherent babble or text speak – If it took you longer to decipher what the commenter wrote than it did for you to write the work that the comment appears on, chances are it’s a troll. 

2.  attention whores –  These will be comment after comment after comment from someone who will use every troll trick in the book to elicit a response from the writer or even the fans of the author.

3.  “I know you are but what am I?” – Comments like “You suck!”  “That was stupid!”  “Don’t quit your day job.”  “I hope no one is stupid enough to buy your book.”  It’s a subspecies of attention whore trolls who like to tell the author in no certain terms that the work in question was not any good.  Often times retorting with, “Okay, smart guy, since you are such a better writer than me, let’s see you post/print/publish your work for me to trash talk.  See how you like it.”  Usually the troll in question will start craw fishing like crazy in an attempt to not have to explain that they can’t write and were saying those things because they were actually jealous of all the attention your work is getting.

4.  LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME! – Another subspecies of attention whore trolls seem to think that IF THEY WRITE EVERYTHING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS THAT IT MAKES THEM LOOK SMARTER AND THAT IT WILL GET THEIR POINT ACROSS.  THEY ALSO THINK THAT CONSTANT USE OF EXCLAMATION POINTS WILL MAKE THEM SEEM SMARTER AS WELL!!!!!!.  In reality, it really just makes the comments harder to read, usually having the opposite effect that the troll is looking for by causing readers and the writer alike to skip right over the comment (but we’ll keep that our little secret).  Basically it’s the equivalent of a 2-year-old throwing a temper tantrum.

5.  the hypocrite – These are some of my favorite trolls.  I write a lot of erotic fantasy, so the majority of my work gets posted on adult blogs, forums, and websites.  What I find absolutely hilarious is all the ‘morally correct’ people who will go on to these types of sites, break out their bibles and start thumping away in the form of comments meant to belittle the author.  Well I figure since they are already on their high horse, they can take the moral high ground and just not bother to go to sites that contain adult literature.  That way all the little pots won’t have to sit around debating their morality issues with all the little kettles.  Idiots.

6.  the moral high ground(er) – This is a spin-off of the hypocrite troll.  These are people who will sit and tell the writer, in great detail, exactly why their point of view is wrong and why the commenter is right.  These trolls especially like trolling articles, blogs, and other forms of opinionated writing.  They lay in wait for someone to say something that they do not agree with or do not like just to point out how “wrong” and “bad” the author is for having written such opinions.

7.  I would have written it this way – Okay, newsflash.  Writers do not mind people giving them an honest opinion on what they think would have made the story better, or how they felt about certain events taking place in the plotline, etc.  If it is honest criticism, then we don’t mind.  Don’t expect us to actually change what we have written, but we will keep it in mind for future novels.  But as soon as someone states, “I would have written it this way…” then our ears close up.  We do NOT care how YOU would have written it.  If you really think that you could have written it better, then you can feel free to go spend all the time and energy it took to develop the plotline, develop the characters and the world in which they exist, then write the story, hammer out the details, edit, proofread…There is a lot of work that goes into creating stories.  The funny thing is that of all the trolls who I have openly dared to go write that great idea of theirs since they seem to know so much more than me, not a single one has ever risen to the challenge.

These are not, of course, all the possible signs that you have a troll in your midst.  As a matter of fact, there are some people who will openly tell you that trolling is okay.  And if the forum/site in question allows such activity to happen without the offender(s) being banned, then you will most certainly be trolled to death.  There are even those people who will teach others how to troll and which sites do not ban trolling offenders.  Most trolls, however, simply cannot hold their temper after a while and will eventually start talking in circles.  Usually the point they are trying to make has little to do with the question/comment/story at hand.  The troll often runs out of steam after his (very simple and often times idiotic) point has been made.  Continuing to bring the troll back into the argument/discussion usually causes him to get flustered and resort to name-calling, etc. 

Trolls are not normally use to anyone making any type of witty come-backs to their flippant comments and are easy to squash if you keep calm, collected, and make your points very clear and concise.  Remember, however, that the average trolls are not very smart so using a large vocabulary and talking above their heads will often be enough to ge them to start talking nonsense.  Also be prepared for them to insist that they made a valid point and that you are the one not making any sense and/or have failed to hold up your end of the argument.  Don’t worry, most smart bystanders will recognize the troll for what he is and join in on the berrating of the troll.  If, by chance, someone actually agrees with the dumb-ass troll then rest easy knowing that the supporter is probably a sock puppet of the troll you are having the discussion with.  And if it’s not the sock of the troll in question, then it’s just another troll who recognized the mating call of his fellow troll and came to answer the call of the moron.

When it comes to trolling comments on a story, however, it’s safe to say that anyone who is not giving an honest opinion but is writing anything that has the sole purpose of infuriating the writer is trolling the work in question.  This does not mean that the person will always have nothing but rosy things to say about the work.  But here is how to spot the difference.

Troll Comment:  “You suck!  This was terrible!  You call yourself a writer?  Better not quit your day job.  I could write a better story in my sleep.  And what the hell is a wereanimal?!  Where’s you rip that piece of garbage from?  I thought that was a clothing line for children.  Are people seriously stupid enough to actually read this crap? (author’s note:  obviously they were since the troll read it!)  I hope no one is stupid enough to buy your book.  What a ripoff!”

The above comment is nothing more than mindless drivel stated by an attention grabbing reader who has nothing better to do with their time than to troll stories with the expressed intent to annoy the writer because he/she is jealous of the author’s writing ability.  Let’s compare it to a comment that actually has some merit.

Non-trolling Comment:  “Okay, this was really badly written and I’ll tell you why.  There were tons of misspelled words, incomplete sentences galore, and I had a really hard time following the storyline.  The dialogue was cheesy at best, and who came up with the names for these characters?  I think it could really be something great if the grammar and spelling was cleaned up a bit and the storyline more coherent.”

Did you spot the difference?  The second comment is certainly not pretty, but it has merit to it.  The commenter isn’t just saying negative things, but is giving reasons on why he/she thinks the way he/she does.  It may be still be criticism, but it’s constructive rather than deconstructive.

Now that you know more about how your trolls think and act, you will stand a better chance of brushing off the comments that have little merit to them.  Just remember, it’s much better if you will simply “not feed the trolls.”