Worst Tweet Ever?

You can run, but you can’t hide: Talk of Fail Whales, talk of Ashton vs. CNN, talk of how you found out your sibling is engaged through a revelatory 140-character missive, and so on—anything and everything, all the time.

What do you think of Twitter?

While it can be a force of evil—think unnecessary info dump overload—I think it can indeed be a positive tool in your writing arsenal if you devote time and a benefit-oriented approach to your posts. (In our May/June 2009 issue we ran a guide to social networking that offers tips on how writers can max out their use of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Click here to check it out for free.)

Or, if you’re like me and not directly on Twitter, there can be a lot to gain from other people’s Tweets. Our publisher and editorial director, Jane Friedman, runs a great (and I’m not just on the hunt for a raise) roundup series on the Best Tweets for Writers, downsizing for us the massive task of sifting the gold out of Fail Whales, “watching Nick@Nite” updates and Ashton Kutcher wars.

Speaking of bad Tweets … what form might the absolute worst take, and how might it spread like a virus?

PROMPT: Worst Tweet Ever?
In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring, feel free to post your story in the Comments section of the blog:

Write a scene about the fallout from one of the worst Tweets ever. Or, simply draft a few of the worst Tweets ever.  

Also, the October issue of WD is now on newsstands. Check out our community issue here, featuring writing forums, online collectives, bestsellers riffing on writers’ organizations, and even the keys to making the most of a nightmare conference. What’s worth your time these days?

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0 thoughts on “Worst Tweet Ever?

  1. Baron

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  2. Zac

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for the great ideas and the food for thought. I’ve had some Q&As and guest prompts in the works (the first which is slated for Oct. 5), and I think e-publication idea and breakdown approach could work well here, too (I’ll inform Robert as I sneak into his blog kingdom, potato sack over my shoulder :).

    I’m going to continue to go forth and suspend the monthly competition to regroup as we amp up the next few issues of WD, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it resurfaced in challenge form. I think it’s also an excellent idea to poll readers, which I’ll toss into today’s post.

    As always, Joe, thanks for your thoughts!

  3. J. Alvey

    Your kindness regarding my writing is greatly appreciated if also wildly exaggerated.

    In the meantime, I would offer this, that you think about not simply shutting down, not just simply quitting.

    I always think it sucks when someone offers problems but does not also offer solutions (as I notably failed to do in my previous post). I tend to ignore such folks or ask them what they consider we do instead.

    With that in mind, let me suggest first and foremost that you ask your ‘hits’ what it is they find attractive about the site, what it is that draws them to it, particularly if they are repeat customers, and that you ask them what they might suggest to make the site more palatable.

    That is, Zac, before giving up the ghost, at least give your readers a chance to make suggestions, if they have them. The caveat, of course, is that I do not know what you mean by an increase in hits. If it has zoomed from five to 12, for example, I would agree with you that you are beating a dead horse. If, on the other hand, you are truly excited by the surge, I would suggest that you ask.

    You might also consider reducing the number of prompts from three per week to maybe one. That is not favorable to me and may not be favorable to others, but it seems to work in the WD poetry joint.

    Mr. Brewer has a couple of features, at least, that might invite more readers and contributors to your page as well, Zac, to wit, the interviews and, now, the breakdown of an offered poem. You may want to consider both of these, interviews with writers (not just short story writers, but novelists as well, many of whom began as short story writers), along with your take on one invididual’s entry in a given week, its strengths and weaknesses.

    I suspect that it is easier by far for Brewer to get poets to interview with him than it would be for you to get a popular novelist into the mix. But you never know, Zac, and, at the very least, there must be any number of contributors to sci-fi, fantasy, detective, romance, suspense, horror, and mystery mags, to name but a few, who would delight in some free pub.

    On the other hand, with respect to the second idea above, writers may submit more willingly if you or someone else (or you AND someone else, whatever) is going to choose an effort for critical review or, as Brewer does, invite a sacrifical lamb to come forward :).

    That may have appeal. That may be a service-added sort of thing.

    Maybe you could even ask published writers to provide you with weekly prompts on occasion and assist with judging that week. Just an idea.

    I am fairly certain that you cannot adjust your ‘swag’ at this point, so I will not even go there. And I think the ‘publication’ aspect is an issue as well, although I have a thought about that as well. It is also a theft from the Brewer page (among others), but you might consider a year-long contest, in which the monthly winners end up in some sort of publication, even an on-line one.

    Being SELECTED for a publication, even an online one, is a resume builder for a lot of aspiring writers. This alone, I would bet, will increase your contributions.

    Those are just a few ideas I’m pulling from the nether regions if you know what I mean and I think you do, Zac, but some of them must have some potential.

    Again, best wishes here and, again, thanks for the wildly exaggerated compliments.

    Take care,


  4. Zac

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for the feedback. In different ways, a lot of it rings true (especially the digital pre-publication aspect), and reaffirms some thoughts I’ve had since we launched the blog. Hits have been growing, but in light of the recent online story drought and other factors, I’ve been giving serious thought to ceasing any more rallies and quelling the monthly giveaway and posted-story emphasis (which I may detail tomorrow, while we’re still in the wake of the last challenge).

    All that aside, thanks for your stories, Joe. I mean that — it was great to have a wildly talented guy like you writing here consistently. Thanks for sticking around since the start, and best of luck to everything you do with your work.


  5. J. Alvey

    I think you have some problems that may be well-nigh insurmountable, Zac.

    One, clearly, a community has not developed here, as has occured with Brewer’s poetry site. Part of that, a large part, to be honest, may be that poetry is easier to write when you are giving yourself 15 minutes, so to speak, than a short story is.

    Further, on that note of comparison, the great many poets do not expect to ever make a dime from their work, but only want to get it out there for consumption and review, while writers of stories are probably latent Stephen Kings. Just a thought.

    Two, I think people figure out that they can write a story based on your prompts without submitting it, getting the same thing done but with the freedom remaining to then submit it somewhere. That is, there is some concern about what is ‘published’ and recently it seems that if it shows up on the net anywhere, a lot of folks consider it published. Why, then, respond to your prompts publicly on your blog? There is little to gain from it.

    Which leads to three, the swag. It is not so impressive as to keep a serious writer (a writer that is serious whether good or bad) from refraining from submitting (see Two).

    Four, there is not a sense of community here as one expects in Brewer’s poetry blog. Why that is, I do not know, unless short-story writers take themselves much more seriously, as may be the case.

    Five, a combination of Two and Four, there is no real feedback on this blog, as there is, for example, in the previously mentioned poetry blog. Even when several people were submitting, they were not offering critique and support for others. Trust me, there is no silence among the IAMBS, but there is silence here. This, again, reduces the need to post.

    Six, and I swore I would stay away from this one, but I really cannot, your winning choices can be absolutely befuddling, particularly, in my case, this last go-round. No disrespect intended to the winner, who did write a great piece, so fine, in fact, that it reminded me of my own in very many details, down to the name of one of the protagonists, but I suspect people do not want to see their ideas lifted.

    I know, regarding Six, that the idea is to encourage others with our writing to pursue something further, according to you. I suspect that people are not up for that, Zac.

    That’s my thinking, Zac, at least part of it.

    This is a great idea, it really is. I wish you the best.

    Take care,


  6. Monica Martin

    (I’ll be your neighbor! These may not be the worst tweets ever, but they are some of the worst I could think of-sorry for grossness)

    * Corn is the only food that looks the same going out as it does going in.

    * My baby’s vomit is green. What could he have eaten to make it that color?

    * I’m sleeping with my daughter’s boyfriend.

    * I’m sleeping with my stepfather.

    * I’m sleeping with my married pastor.

    * I killed my daughter’s gerbil and told her he escaped.

  7. J. Alvey

    It’s sad to be the only one here. Will someone be my neighbor?

    Anyway, my effort this Monday:

    God tweeted.

    He did.

    Some of us marveled that some dude got the God account and wondered why we hadn’t thought of it. There has to be some advantage to being God, right? Right?

    He established himself, of course, and developed a following, and remained out of sight, even when the major and minor news stations went looking for him, even when the major and minor internet functionaries went seeking him, even when the anti-virus people and the local, state, and federal constabularies went looking for him.

    He remained hidden, somehow. Give the dude his props. A clever fellow.

    More clever than that. He didn’t just retain his low profile, secrete his real address behind a labyrinthe of layers, no, he accepted pretty much everyone into his circle, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, you name it, pantheists, deists, theists, pagans, the works, telling them in his tweets that they were all welcome into his kingdom.

    As if.

    Even agnostics and atheists, he advised in his terse responses, couldn’t be blamed for their confusion and even adament disbelief: "It’s cool" was one of his responses to an atheist.

    The guy was shrugging off more than three millenia of hatred and bloodshed and people were buying in.

    His traffic was getting out of hand within just a couple of weeks. People tweeting with prayers, naturally, and with questions, supplications and honorifics, and, yes, a sizeable component of unbelievers and true believers joined in an odd alliance insisting that he wasn’t real, that he was a sham, a charlatan, a miscreant, a criminal, Satan himself.

    The tweets poured in and, on occasion, God sent another message out. Eventually, God was given his own cloud.

    It seemed like a good deal for everybody, with the possible exception of system administrators trying to enhance servers to handle the stuff flying in.

    Advertisers were crawling over themselves to get his endorsements, although he remained silent when they beseeched him for the least nod of approval.

    Finally, he tweeted, "The end is nigh."

    That is when the shit hit the proverbial fan. It is likely that no one really knew the extent of his reach, the number of folks who were tracking his every statement, following every syllable, every puncuation mark.

    Turns out some people were trying to interpret everything he said. New religions were being built around the emoticons he used.

    It should not have been a surprise then, that when he announced "The end is nigh", the entire world went berserk, or at least most of it.

    Do not be surprised, if and when the Apocalypse comes, that it resembles nothing of what you expect, of what you have been taught.

    It turns out that when we think it is ending for all of us in short order, we are rather heathen in our responses, regardless of religious preferences, with few exceptions, most of whom were killed or at least raped several times as they stood in front of their homes waiting for rapture.

    For about a week the world went to hell in a handbasket, debauchery, rioting, looting, orgiastic excess beyond anything previously known to mankind.

    After that week, when nothing happened, people began to wonder what happend to this tweeter called God. His tweets had stopped on that day when he made his profound pronouncement. No more was heard from him.

    Eventually, the world went about the task of rebuilding.

    They searched furiously for the person that caused this. The world united, for once, in agreement that this person should die the most horrible death (okay, not quite united…some people never cave).

    I still do not know why. It’s cool.


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