Reacting to Insults?

I'm not getting much attention on RoyalRoadL, but the one guy who seems to consistently leave comments on my stories is just leaving insults. The last comment he left said, "You made it to chapter two before you made it terrible, so congratulations. Why does everything you write have to be so twisted and awful?" I know better than to get in comment fights with your readers, but since there's no mute or block feature (that I can find, anyway), it's starting to get on my nerves. What would you guys consider a good reaction? Should I delete the comments? Will that make people start saying I can't take criticism?

"Twisted and awful" seems like somebody has a kneejerk reaction to heavy topics... I would say to take a critical look at your story's framing, to make sure that you're portraying any heavy topics with a sensitive hand (torture, abuse, murder, etc can elicit 'why are you twisted' responses, but there's nothing wrong with including those things as long as you make it quite clear that you're not trying to show any of these as good things) and if your framing /is/ fine, then go ahead and delete. I will reply to constructive criticism, if someone gives me well-meaning pointers like 'the middle paragraphs have too much word repetition', but I'll just delete comments that have nothing good to say. Once somebody said that my writing 'made them need to take a shower' all because the main character ended up with a different character than the commenter wanted.

The first comment I got from him (basically a witty conversation with himself about how gross the story was) was because the MC has a romance with a nonhuman character. This time the story was "twisted and awful" because the MC (different story) finds out she killed a child during her werewolf transformation.

Oh wow, that's not even that bad on the scale of things... Coming from someone whose stories consistently include interactions between humans and demons, with a heavy focus on humans finding demon feeding habits morally wrong, and demons finding it confusing how humans could commit as many crimes as they do. Way worse stuff than a human/nonhuman relationship and one dead kid. Oversensitive or a troll. That said, I think I'll be taking a read through your stories!

Sweet! I'd appreciate it!

You can go ahead and delete whatever comments you want; the comment section is your dictatorship. However, keep in mind that you'll still be able to see them (they'll show up in red because they're soft deleted, not hard deleted). I had this really annoying girl posting comments complaining about stupid formatting issues that weren't actual issues that still haunt me these many years later. Thankfully, she dropped the story quite early. If it gets to the level of harassment, you can report the comments and request that the person be banned from commenting on your fictions, I believe, though I've never done this, so I'm not sure.

You can also reply. I'd keep the responses thoughtful and directly address the criticisms in the comment. Don't attack readers, no matter how pissed off you are. "I'm sorry you feel that way" is my standard go-to. Though once, I had to say "You're clearly an American", hahaha. (It was a person who said that since I'm writing in English, I should use Imperial units of measurement.)

You can also respond with total non-sequiturs that leave them spinning. Maybe that'll confuse them into submission. :P

I had someone over at RRL who was commenting so much and obsessively nit-picking to the point that I thought he might have been trolling me just to get me angry and bite back. I chose to stay professional and respond with multiple variations of "Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts" and just let it go. Eventually, said reader, wrote me a raving five-star review. Turns it he loved my story and his critical comments were a result of being overly invested in the characters and the storyline as a reader. All that to say, you never really know how much a reader likes or dislikes your work by the short snippets of comments they post. I would say, if you have a return reader who is constantly commenting on your stories, even if it appears negative, chances are they may actually be a fan of your work... you never know. I would just thank he/she for reading, and leave it at that. At least someone is bothering to comment at all, right?... lol. Just my 2 cents.

I got one review that compared Amber in Amber Silverblood to a doll in a doll house because she hardly ever effects the plot. I was like, that's cool, you're welcome to your opinion, but the whole point of Amber Silverblood is that she's a helpless teenage girl who's in waaaay over her head and has lost control of her life. She doesn't do things so much as things happen to her.


Literary expectations do real harm to stories featuring passive protagonists. As long as they're not "doing something to the plot" they're mistaken as objectively bad characters (a concept that shouldn't exist, as fiction is a subjective field). Never mind an interesting internal monologue and deeply explored themes, if she's not punching her problems in the face physically or metaphorically, the kind of people that take the most common general fiction tips as gospel will shout "You don goofed."

Do look over your work and see if the things you explore come across as dull. If they don't, pay the oh-so-enlightened review no mind; it won't even be a drop of water in the well.

Just to echo Scott S, sometimes it's hard to tell what's meant as a genuine "insult" in text form. When I first read your header text, I admit to thinking 'Hmmm, does the "you made it terrible"' mean 'your writing is terrible' or 'the situation these characters are in is now terrible and twisted and that's so cool (but I'm bad at expressing myself)'. Having read a bit of the follow-up, I feel like it's probably neither...

One thing I might double check is how you've set up your story summary. If there's no indication that "terrible" things like angst/child death might be a factor, it could be that this person came in expecting one thing, was blindsided, and is lashing out. Alternatively, yeah, they could be a genuine jerk with some kind of vendetta against you. (Context: I'm paranoid, to the point where I've tossed in the header of my RRL parts "hey, this part talks about suicide, if that might be an issue". One person's said you're kind of spoiling your own story, but I figure better safe than sorry.) When in doubt, take the higher ground.

As to what I would do, comment wise? I wouldn't delete it, I'd go with your "you're welcome to your opinion" route. Because the thing about negative comments is, usually you need a certain amount of readership to even get to that point, meaning it's possible that your readers may even jump to your OWN defence. (And if it's on an earlier part, I'm the sort of guy to get passive aggressive and remark later on a current update, 'Wow, the remarks on the first two parts of this story in the last week have weirded me out, is it only me, or do any of you agree?'.... not recommending it, just saying what I might do.) Granted, while I've seen this sort of 'readership to the rescue' thing happen, I've never personally experienced it.

As final context to all of this, I once got the comment "Get off the internet". I responded to it in a cordial (if mildly sarcastic) manner. ... Sometimes I get very lonely.

I have a personal hatred for "concern trolling" , ie, insults and trolling disguised as attempting to be helpful, because they're "concerned" and want you to be better.

I like the non sequitor idea. Run with their comments and just make random shit up to confuse them.

I've gotten some harsh/mean comments early on, though they've petered out months ago. For me, there's not much I do except laugh and move on.

Maybe try and trick them into making their insults into a review? Like "I don't care what you say, commenter. The only thing that is important to me is comments on webfictionguide!"

There's no great way to handle it. That's the allure for people who like to troll: if you ignore them, they look like they're running roughshod over you. If you don't, it makes it that easier for them to get you to lose your temper and then whoops, you're showing your ass online.

There are some -- a very few -- people who can take trolls and aggressive antifans on head-to-head and come out smelling like a rose. I'm not one of them. Statistically speaking, it's not likely anyone who posts here is. And the danger of trying to determine if you are one is the failure mode for trying is catastrophic injury to your online reputation.

Personally, I engage. I happen to enjoy a good laugh, so I tend to bait the trolls for fun and amusement. I start nice, hoping that they're just decent, sane human beings having a bad day. Sometimes, I even get through to them, and they realize they're wrong, but mostly they just screech louder and less coherently. I get to be a smug bastard at them making complete asses of themselves.

It's also a sort of community service on my part. I kinda figure that while they're targeting *me*, they're not going after someone who might actually be emotionally impacted by their bullshit the way you appear to be. I not only *can* take it, I somewhat *enjoy* it, maybe I'm some sort of internet masochist, I dunno...

I even keep a screenshot of one of my favorite poorly spelled idiotic ramblings/vague death threats in the "fan contributions" section of my website.

Along with this little pearl of wisdom that I bequeath to you.

And as a sort of side benefit, I get to say "look how deranged the people who hate me are!" Which has actually collected me a *lot* of readers over the years. Of the "I can't wait to see what the controversy is about" variety. Which usually ends with "Wait, that's it? Damn, these people flip their shit over the dumbest things. It was a good story, but I was expecting something with shock value."

One reader left a comment that was, and I quote "I came in expecting Milo Yiannopoulos, what I got was Stanley Kubrick."

I estimate I keep about 1 in every 100 people who find me that way. But that's added up to about fifty or sixty readers at this point.

I can't say I come out of it "smelling like a rose"- in fact, most people are of the opinion that I'm a dick. Probably because I call myself a dick on a regular basis. But I find you get a significant level of respect for standing up for yourself and calling it like it is.

As long as you stick to your guns and don't let them trip you up, you'll find the internet bullies are an easy stone to step on, and people love watching other people step on bullies.

@ubersoft: haha speak for yourself. My author persona is all sparkles and rainbows and cookies. Then again, I guess I don't take people "head on". Obviously, it's better to attack from the side.

Eh, I wouldn't say I'm emotionally impacted by them, but I admit I *am* worried about the impact they'll have on my readers. This guy always leaves comments in the first couple chapters, so anyone reading them would see his comments like right off the bat. Also, I checked out what else he's been up to, and I found he has literally not said one single positive thing to anyone. His review headlines are things like "Illiterate Gold" and "A husk of a story" so I think it's safe to say he's just a troll, lol

I get a lot of these on RRL and mostly I ignore them, but there are those who really irritate me, mostly the passive aggressive ones (here to help!) and I just delete them. You have to be thorough because they tend to follow up about censorship and the author not being able to handle criticism, which I also delete. I've even been reported to admin for deleting comments by people who don't realise it's RRL policy to let authors moderate their own comments. Once they're starved of oxygen they go away, but often it's the attention they crave so ignoring them doesn't work and in some cases they embolden other nobs to join in.

As much as I believe all comments are valid and welcome, bitter wannabes who are desperate to get noticed are just too parasitic to put up with every chapter.

Well, if he pulls that with everyone, then I suspect everyone already knows what this guy's about and nobody takes it seriously.

I'd still leave that image in a reply, but that's just how I roll.