There lives a distant and mythical world where artists, consumers and trolls live in a state of constant war. Artists fight for their rights to expressions, as consumers seek the best deals from their suppliers while trolls seek to destroy the world in which they all inhabit. These battles play out on the battlefields of Facebook news feed with many casualties. Fatalities include deleted profiles and triggered victims. And it’s all thanks to the writers’ group.
To combat this, people split into alliances. There’s a marketplace for trading, trolls congregate in chat rooms and spread their manifesto of hate. Artists join groups. This story focuses on a string of alliances, built to provide a safe space for writers. Below is a list of characters found in these loosely bound alliances teaching the ways of writers. Enjoy reading, but remember, you should be writing.
NB: I’ve attached gender roles to the characters but only for stylistic reasons. These roles are filled by all writers alike.
#1 Mr Arrogant, But Terrible Writer
This writer posts something of their own and doesn’t accept any criticism, whether constructive or not. He often uses words out of context. In poetry groups, it gets worse. Rhymes sound forced and lack any sense of flow. However, the content relies heavily on informing the reader that the said poet is a genius. The pantheon of literature he’s likely to have read includes a few pop stars and Kanye West, because Kanye West is a genius, right?
It’s difficult to read these posts without wanting to rip out someone else’s hair. They lack basic grammar and originality. The writer includes clichés and outdated terminology to prove themselves as the magnificent. A lot of the time, they’ll compare themselves to someone like Stephen King, although by their work, it’s clear they’ve never read as much as a Pinterest post inspired by King, let alone something written by him.
If you dare provide constructive feedback to help a fellow writer, you’re likely to feel the authors wrath with a poorly constructed insult. Even the slur itself will also lack any real imagination or original thought. The writer may be middle-aged, but the language used in both the slanderous remark and the original post will most likely sound like something out of a pre-teens school survival dictionary.
#2 Miss Overly Active
This type of writer spends all day observing the group and interacting with posts. It’s commendable, but often we ask what the point is? She never posts her own work and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Usually, she’s found providing motivational comments to those who doubt their ability or wonder if they’re wasting their time persuing the writing dream. If an author requests a beta reader, she’ll always leave a smile and offer her services for free.
She annoys members of the group, but she provides valued integrity lacking among the human minds within the alliance. In a time when most of us treasure our own art and place little value on the work or thoughts or others, Miss Overly Active puts herself to one side. Her focus is on building relationships and supporting her fellow writers. Sure, she involves herself in every conversation, but shouldn’t we all be as supportive as her?
#3 Mrs Offended
She’s a symptom of the times. Everything that doesn’t conform to include every living being within the earth’s atmosphere, she’ll find offence. And that’s despite herself not living a life in which she’s offended on behalf of. She’ll call out homophobia despite not being gay, and never stop to ask a member of the LGBT+ community how they feel.
If there’s a chance someone may find your post offensive, this member will actively call for an administrator to remove you from the group. She’ll rampage and criticise your work for merely holding a differing opinion. She’ll refuse to see the merit in your writing because art has become a source of political gain than it has about self-expression, at least to the mind of this writer. She imagines self-expression belongs to those who think or feel like her and believes we must destroy who those who refuse to follow her life view.
#4 Mr I’m Only Writing to Provoke a Reaction
This writer wants to be a writer more than he wants to troll, but failure has led him to fight alongside the evil empire. They’re smart enough to understand what lines they can’t cross. However, they observe the group and build up enough of a group feeling to post comments that spark heated debates. The sole purpose of Mr ‘Provokes a Reaction’ is to anger as many people as possible. Revolting masses is a form of entertainment for him.
His posts have two common targets. Mr Arrogant, who believes his beliefs are true and superior in a similar vein to Mrs Offended, but the two share entirely different ideologies. The troll posts his comment, then sits back and watches as the two doctrines battle it out in numerous comment threads. The everyday people of the writers’ groups watch on with disdain as two grown adults fight to the death over something irrelevant.
Meanwhile, Mr reaction sits back in laughter alongside the feared uninvolved lurking in the shadows.
#5 Sir Uninvolved
You’ll never see this person unless you go looking for him. He lurks in the shadows, creeping and hovering over posts, taking screenshots for future reference. He’s a writer, but he doesn’t like to get involved. He distances himself while watching over the population from afar.
Most people don’t know these types of people exist on the outskirts of their town, but they do. They’re not to be feared or demonised. They need love to lure them into group participation. If you come across one of these hooded figures watching over the group, don’t panic. Do not call a town vigil. Instead, ask them about their favourite novel or their work-in-progress. Soon, you’ll learn the legends of these people and the passion they hold for their craft. They joined the group with good intentions but just haven’t come around to the idea of posting something.
But sometimes, they simply don’t care.
#6 Mr Know-It-All
Cut from the same cloth as Mr Arrogant, except Mr Know-It-All never posts his own work. Mr Know-It-All often watches newsfeeds and hands out advice to new and experienced writers alike. Unlike the rest of this list, this character is usually a man. He doesn’t use an advisory tone, but a stern demand that suggests if you don’t follow his advice, then you’re doomed to failure.
His advice is free, and often worth the price you pay. He defies the professionals with a defined body of work in which makes them recognisable. Usually, he has the minimal experience to pull from and bases most of his guidance on what he feels makes most sense without having put much of it into practice. He speaks with confidence, so new writers should feel cautious when deliberating over whether to take his opinion as fact.
The biggest issue with this ignorant writer is they also forget the importance of an editor. They hate human and bot editors alike. If you question their decision to forego the editorial process, they’ll swear blind that it’s up to a publishing company to edit their work. Often, they’ll use Hemingway of a prime example of a writer who never had a grasp over basic grammar. Newsflash, Hemingway didn’t have access to Microsoft Word, Grammarly or Google.
#7 Mr Boasting about Never Reading
Stephen King said a writer must commit two things, reading a lot, and writing a lot. Some may disagree with this advice, and I spend far more time writing than I do reading, but I read a fair bit. Not as much I’d like, but enough to call myself a voracious reader. In my personal experience, reading has made me a better storyteller and poet. Yet, some people swear by not reading.
You can make a case for movies and their relationship to storytelling, but to suggest a writer mustn’t read is debatable. However, in almost every writer’s group across the net, there’s at least one member who often shares a personality with Mr Arrogant and professes his genius with terrible prose and a lack of understanding of what a good piece of work includes.
Writers like him, don’t care for the craft. Most of them find it difficult to admit to themselves that they’re only in it for the money, despite never making a penny from it. All they see is the success of EL James and Stephanie Meyer and the movies that rose from their novels.
#8 Miss Need to Get Paid
Everyone wants to write Harry Potter. Everyone thinks they can write a fantasy series that will catapult them into the elite writing group that includes more dead authors than it does living. In every group, a post appears stating the author’s intention. I want to sell as much as Stephen King, or JK Rowling. It’s usually just those two because nobody wants to be Shakespeare, despite the bard himself, appearing at the top of the list of works most sold.
These writers aren’t interested in the craft, or the passion of fellow writers. All they see is a quick fix. There are two types of these writers. Those from impoverished countries in which writing a ready book in the hopes of it becoming a best seller in an English-speaking country may be the only opportunities they have. But there’s also those from western countries who have access to endless of opportunities that offer higher rewards for the same amount of work as writing a piece of fiction.
These people don’t see the challenges of writing. They think it’s as easy as putting pen to page and retelling any old story. Usually, they beg for ideas, or writers to write their concepts as though the mere thought is profitable. They have no plan for the plot or literary design, yet regard their simple idea as enough to sell to new writers, all hoping to get rich.
A Note to the Ordinary People in Writers’ Group
For the most part, Writers Groups are full of amazing people with vast imaginations and bundles of potential. I’ve read great poetry and fantastic samples of story beginnings. However, among the aspiring passionate writers, I’ve found a few characters that helped me write this list. This isn’t an attack on writers’ groups, but an observation.
To all the genuine writers who do it for love and have a passion for engaging and helping their fellow writers, I salute you. I’m personally Sir Uninvolved, and I have my reasons for my standoffish nature. Do you fit one of the roles on this list, and how do you feel about it? Let me know in the comments or with a message.
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