10 (Ir)refutable Laws of Online Writing
Either satire or a summary of the Internet’s best writing advice
Garrett Kincaid – December 11, 2022 (Version 1)
*Revised on January 14, 2023
There’s an ocean of content. Don’t you want yours to float? This is the only guide you’ll need. Definitively.
Here are 10 dead-simple tips to level up your writing. Each is carefully crafted for the age of social media. Follow these irrefutable laws to increase engagement and finally start making passive income from your side-hustle.
1. Literature doesn’t last. Ad copy is forever.
Who reads books anymore? Why would you? Most books should be blog posts anyway. Today’s #1 skill is copywriting. The world moves super fast on our digital devices. If you want views, clicks, and reads, you need to stop the scroll. Hit ’em with an ambiguous question, a controversial take, or a how-to promise.
Make people feel like they’ll miss out if they keep scrolling. And if they click, you’ve done your job. So, sell your product and move on.
2. Your reader is dumb, so repeat yourself.
Repeat yourself. Because your reader probably won’t get it the first time.
3. Quantity over quality.
Once you’ve thrown the quality of your prose out the window, it’s easier to publish more often. Forget an outline. Just bang out a draft, run it through Grammarly, and blast that thing out to all your channels. Repeat, repeat, repeat. The only way to gain traction online is by poking people with your content. The more they see your name and face, the more likely they’ll be to click.
You want to make it on the Internet? Ditch quality.
4. Never settle for accuracy when you could have virality.
99% of people don’t know that statistics are figures of speech. Numbers were made to evoke feelings, not to deliver information. Include impressive stats. And if you don’t have any, make them up. 50% of the time, the stats I quote are made up.
The only metric that matters are your engagements and conversions. So do whatever will make those go up. Don’t steal or cheat, but lie. Lie for sure.
5. Overpromise, underdeliver.
People will follow you if they think you’re helping them get somewhere. But if they actually get there, they won’t need you anymore.
Make promises. Makes huge, crazy promises! People click on promises. Then, give your readers a nibble. If you want to keep your restaurant open, make sure your patrons leave hungry. It’ll keep them coming back.
6. Full-stop fragments. Use them.
English was invented long before the Internet, which means its rules are no longer relevant. Forget. The. Rules.
We don’t need rules rules are for people who can’t think outside the box for the sheep of the Internet who have none of their own ideas they just regurgitate what other people say and if those people would just forget grammar and mechanics it would make their writing so much better and easier to understand.
To make your writing dramatic, drop the noun or verb from your sentence. They don’t need to be together. Subject. Predicate. Use periods, or full stops, after your fragments for maximum impact. It’s the key to capturing attention.
7. Don’t use semicolons, they’re confusing.
If you think you might need a semicolon, just use a comma. The rules don’t matter, remember? No one cares about comma splices. And no one even knows what a semicolon means. So, just use a comma instead of a semicolon, no one will notice, I promise.
8. Sacrifice clarity for brevity.
The shorter, the better.
Write like you talk so a third-grader could understand. Use easy vocabulary, simple sentence structure, and short sections. Most people will read your work on their way to doing something else, like flushing, so don’t make them think too hard. That’s not what they’ve signed up for.
There’s no need to be rigorous or thorough. Your reader is dumb, but your job is to make them feel smart. Be brief. Make your reader feel good. That’s your job. Nothing else.
9. The hook is all that matters. Substance is secondary.
The surface is what sells. Write something skimmable and hook people with your headers.
At best, your reader will make it through the first sentence before scrolling through your section headers. So, make that first sentence pop, then reel them in with catchy, provocative section titles. And since no one will read your intro, STUFF that thing with keywords like it’s a turkey on T-Day. Your SEO will thank you.
When it comes to the actual content, just make sure it’s not too short or too long. If it’s too short, pad your word count. But, overall, error on the side of brevity. If someone sees “12 min read,” they won’t click. Because that’s a suspiciously long time for a shit.
10. Please (please!), disregard the above.
Wow, that was cathartic (and cringy).
As someone who cares about the craft of writing, it’s hard sometimes to be a reader online. There are writers I read who have wit and soul, but there are plenty whose work feels disembodied — as if it weren’t written by a human. Maybe because it wasn’t.
I heard the battle-cries of AI and retreated to this cozy cave of nuance — safe from the metal-minded for the few creative domains that could never be wrest from human control: sarcasm, irony, comedy. Soon, I will wean off satire’s teat and emerge from this cave to compete in the new content regime. But, first, I’ll spend a few moments reflecting on this pleasant reprieve.
There is a constant concert of content, and I’ve been walking into the venue alone and overdressed. But not this time! This time, I came strutting in with my boys, Antithesis and Hyperbole — our outfits concealed by ankle-length trench coats. All you saw were my feet adorned with a pair of light-up Heelys, but I knew you would infer the rest.
Write that, GPT!
Disclaimer: This article was written entirely by a carbon-based being. If you notice a grammatical err, know that it was intended.