Writers! 34 Things You NEED for Your Writing to Go Viral!

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So you want your writing to go viral? You and your article don’t stand a chance unless you do these 34 things.

Write lists. People love lists.

Use a title that grabs people, e.g., “Why Molten Lava Cakes are The New Hipster Wedding Craze Even Though They’ve Killed 10 People This Year.”

Don’t write for everybody: too general!

Don’t write for yourself: too selfish!

Write for American Industrialist Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper.

Semicolons;;;; you need four of them.

Should you ask and answer your own question? Yes.

Should you use a dash—also yes.

Should you use two dashes——WTF, no, that’s weird.

Make bold assertions. Provide no evidence. If you mess this up, expect 21.3% fewer shares.

Use these words or phrases as much as possible: “Actually,” “I discovered,” “urban,” “complex gender issues.”

Use these words or phrase sparingly: “centaur,” “thunder-dome,” “dongle.”

No matter what you write about, you must bring up 10-day meditation retreats and make the reader feel guilty if they have not attended one.

Never ask this question: “What is wrong with you, idiot?”

Ask this instead: “Why are people who believe X such complete idiots? Let’s investigate.”

If you use enough hyperbole, it will lead to a major book deal and a cash prize from a handsome Norwegian prince.

If you do not use hyperbole, you will be ignored, and you will die alone.

Let the reader in on an interesting fact, e.g. “the average Narwhal is 2,100 lbs., 17 ft. in length, and does not appreciate having a Christmas wreath placed on its tusk.”

Complain that people misuse grammar!! Very original. Everyone literally loves this.

Invite the reader to, “follow, leave a comment, and subscribe to your newsletter.” 😉

Reference postmodernism.

Invite the reader to, “slip into something more comfortable.” 😉

Reference RoboCop 2. Relate it to postmodernism.

Coin a new word—like “stupendifying” or “gentrifluxification”—but do NOT define it.

Reference an obscure historical event, e.g. The Treaty of Münster. Relate it to RoboCop 2.

Insert a great rhyming phrase, like, “it’s a prime time, slime time, war crime.”

Callbacks make readers feel smart, so do a callback to RoboCop 2.

Use a retro word like “Cyberpunk.” It means having online sex with a punk in a 1990’s America Online chat room.

You need this sentence: “Writing is about LOVE, and it’s time to DANCE, grandfather!”

Ask a question no one is asking, then say it’s crazy: “Can our political malaise be understood in terms of grapefruit sales? That’s debatable!”

Write with the door closed!

Edit with the door open!

Edit one more time in an opulent writing zeppelin, floating high above the city!

Always end your writing with a lofty generalization.

Let’s go viral, writers!!!

p.s. Writing is about LOVE, and it’s time to DANCE, grandfather!


More writing advice for think pieces from me, on McSweeney’s.

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Written by

Alex Baia is a humor writer and contributor to McSweeney’s and Slackjaw. He lives in Austin, TX.