Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Mon, Jun 07 2010

There are trolls and then there are trolls.

There are the trolls who are from Norse legends and often have less-than-desirable physical characteristics. These folks often appear in literature and spoken stories and are often portrayed as unusually large (or small) in stature. They're known for being grumpy, invasive, ill-tempered and blustery and just plain strange. If you write in fantasy or delve into folklore you may find yourself working with this sort of troll in your tale.

Another kind of troll arose with the popularity of the online world. If you've evern visited a chat room or online bulletin board, you've seen someone popping into the discussion with cranky or insulting comments that add little to real conversation and seem mostly to distract people into taking swipes at the troll. When the group has some sort of moderator, he or she may end up giving the troll a warning. If the behavior continues, the troll may be banned from further discussion. One common tactic is for a group of chronologically young trolls to enter a well-established chat room full of older members who already have a good rapport. The trolls will appear innocent and naive, asking newbie questions, drawing one of more helpful members into conversation. Before long, the questions or comments from the trolls take a nasty turn in the hopes that the established members will take the bait and abandon the original discussion to give the trolls attention. The dynamics can be really interesting to observe.

If your literature is going to incorporate this second type of troll, you might be helped by thinking about the first type of troll. Then think of vandals, naysayers, pot-stirrers, class clowns and similar people you've encountered in your own life. A troll of this type can be a great way to give your protagonist one more trial in his or her already taxing day. A troll can add levity to a situation without taking a plot too far astray. And of course, there is always the possibility that a troll will turn into a sort of ally for your protagonist.

posted at: 13:40 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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