Monday, June 27, 2016

How to be a Troll: Beta Edition!

[Disclaimer: please don't use these tips. This is all satire. It would be better if you took the opposite of nearly everything here as tips on what to do]


So you want to be a troll, eh? Oh, it’s easy enough to do, if you’ve got the vivacity and gall to pull it off. It also helps if you have a healthy dose of bitterness, a cup of unfulfilled dreams, and just a smidgeon of angry tears syphoned from disappointed hopes. 

But, in case you’re in need of a guide to be the best troll you can be when it comes to critiquing, do not fret. I’ve got your back, my little arbiter of words. And while this may be specific to a more writerly inclination, I have no doubt that a troll-in-training, such as yourself, can find a plethora of uses for these tips.

Tip 1: Reiterate how important you are

That person asking for a beta read? Make sure they know, without a shadow of a doubt, how much of a special snowflake you are. 

I don’t mean to simply tell your partner about qualifications to ease their anxieties. No, telling is bad style, my good troll—you need to show how superior you are to them. Scan your many degrees and accolades (for we both know you must have many, you rainbow-colored pegasus of literary genius.) Sing from the hilltops (or just in 5 single-spaced pages) about how awesome you are, and how your awesomeness will translate to red ink on that person’s book-baby.

*Bonus points if you send them a professional photo of you doing something scholarly.

Tip 2: Implement sesquipedalian phraseology

What? It’s not your fault if the writer needs about 10 different dictionaries and 5 thesauruses (or thesauri, for you Latin-inclined trolls) to understand your notes. After all, you have 2 PhDs from prestigious universities of the highest caliber, and 3 other degrees in various fields of the utmost importance. How else will your brilliancy shine through unless you use big, hefty words? In fact, you are performing an admirable favor to these “writers” by expanding their diction.

Dang plebeians.

Tip 3: Only focus on flaws 

Compliments are for the weak, and assurances are for the feeble-minded, dear troll. Do not succumb to such flowery flatteries when your brilliance can be put to much greater use in the spaces of the page. Big or small, point out all the flaws, even if it comes down to a matter of perspective. 

When in doubt, assume you are right.

Tip 4: Focus on things the writer did not ask for

Why stop at the developmental, large-scale edits a writer asked for when you can nit-pick their style choices, grammar, syntax, and the like? And I don’t mean simply pointing out a consistent error or suggesting resources to improve. 

No, every line edit must be met with long-winded analysis on the state of grammar and the writing world, in general. Question marks with no explanation can also be very effective, if you are pressed for time.

*Bonus points if you can fit in a line that questions the amount of education or the lack of “quality” craft books they have consumed. If they haven’t read Stephen King’s, On Writing, why are you even wasting your time?

Tip 5: Offer no real solutions to problems

If you employ none of the aforementioned tactics, then at least cling to this one above all else. Offer no real constructive criticism. 

Instead, question everything else from the person’s life, and ask why they are even writing the book in the first place. A simple seed of doubt planted will reap rewards tenfold. Maybe they will even give up the one thing that makes them truly happy in this world.

At the end of the day, your goal is to distract from the fact that you are, in fact, insecure and hurting in some way.

Hope this helps you in your quest to become a writing troll, Friend. Until next time.


Like I've said before, this is all in good fun. When helping others with their writing, please be kind, compassionate, and understanding.

What kind of trolling have you seen in the writing/reading community? How can we get better? Comment below or answer me on Twitter


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