[Writing Prompt] Don’t Fight With Strangers On Social Media

Fighting creativityA few days ago, I commented on a Twitter post about a hot-button issue. I don’t normally do that, but I thought I was making a neutral, expanding-the-argument kind of comment.

You can tell where this is going can’t you?


Someone read my comment and assumed I was saying something I wasn’t; pigeon-holed me as someone from the completely different end of the ideological spectrum; and proceeded to make snarky, personal comments every time I tried to defuse the situation.

I had that hot-and-sweaty, blood-pounding-in-my-face, pit-in-my-stomach sensation we all remember so well from the injustices of being a misunderstood 12-year-old.  I wasted hours constructing careful answers and psyching myself up to open up my Twitter feed, wondering if I would find an olive branch or a minefield.

It wasn’t fun.

It sucked all the creativity out of my day.

It was such a waste of time.

And the irony of it was, I had, that very morning, reposted Austin Kleon’s advice not to pick fights with strangers on social media!

The Prompt

Find an issue that you COULD have a fight with someone about on social media and instead, write a story.


  • Make it something you really, really care about.
  • Have a protagonist and an antagonist who feel strongly about either side of the argument.
  • Give the antagonist a legitimate reason to feel that way — don’t make them a cardboard cut-out/cartoon villain.  (This might be hard, but will result in a better story, and a better you!)
  • You don’t have to be sympathetic to the opposing point of view, but you do have to grant some humanity to the person who holds that view. Grace them with some nuance. It’ll make for a better story, and it’ll intrigue the reader.
  • It will make your story and its outcome surprising and  memorable.
  • Consider leaving the story slightly unresolved. Life usually is. Maybe there is a moment when one (or both) characters have a glimmer of understanding (or of seeing the other person as a real human), or maybe they miss that moment entirely.
  • When working with two sides of an issue, you can show how the ‘good’ character could easily become the ‘bad’ character if only they…{insert the line your character will not cross here] and vice versa.
  • Because this is a short story, focus on one angle of an issue, one comment, one moment in the character’s lives.
  • Maybe let the exchange play out on a simulated social media exchange.
  • Maybe have the characters in another time and place, debating face to face, or through some completely different medium.


I promise you that, if you write a story instead of picking a fight with a stranger on social media, you’ll have a better day than I did last week 😉


[Write On Wednesday] An Argument

A Pretty Argument
A Pretty Argument by Just Ard on Flickr

Today I was writing a scene for a longer story in which my fish-out-of-water character comes up against people she has befriended but disagrees with. It’s very difficult for her to do this, and it was so much fun to write, that I’m recommending you try something similar.

The Prompt

Write A Story Centered Around An Argument


  • Make sure you make it clear what each character wants and what the stakes are for each character in this argument (in my case, my main character desperately wants to fix a mistake she has made that had consequences for her new friends, without getting them in more trouble. They want to help her and she’s determined to go it alone. The new friends variously want to help her because: they like her; they have a lot to lose too; it’s the right thing to do; they’re bored and want adventure; and simply to take advantage of an opportunity to tease a big brother mercilessly. Each character in the argument has a reason to be in it.)
  • Think about how you FEEL when you’re in an argument. Try to use some of that physicality — but without resorting to cliché. Be outrageous. Make up new metaphors that suit your setting. Have fun with this. You can always edit them out later.
  • If you want this to be more than a ‘talking heads’ situation, have your characters DO something as they argue: maybe they’re hiking along a dangerous ridge so they must remain in control or they risk plunging over the edge; maybe they’re doing the dishes; maybe they are hiding from the bad guys and the whole argument must be whispered…
  • Have some fun with this. Let your characters say things you would NEVER say, because you’re such a nice person (you are, aren’t you?)