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December 19, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Ian Spector

I get asked all the time how I come up with Chuck Norris Facts. It’s not always an easy process to explain and since I began my website in 2005, the process for curating submissions and crafting original facts has become increasingly complicated as more and more “facts” were made available to the public.

The way my site was originally designed, visitors could only view one “fact” at a time and would have to refresh the page to see new content. Users could submit their own facts through the website and to keep visitors returning, I made sure to select only the best ones for use. Now, believe it or not, crowdsourcing quality written humor on the internet is often easier said than done – fewer than 1% of submissions ever made it to the site. Submissions that didn’t make the cut were either flat-out rejected, edited into something acceptable, or used as inspiration for an all-new fact.

So what makes a great Chuck Norris Fact? Well, there are a number of different sub-types of facts but what they all have in common is that they are designed to be surprising when read. The other two main ingredients, so to speak, are a core topic and a style.

Surprise comes in many forms. Part of it arises from the irony of referring to these statements as “facts,” but most is due to the way the rest of each fact is written. For instance, sometimes facts will quickly change direction:

Mr. T once defeated Chuck Norris in a game of tic-tac-toe. In retaliation, Chuck Norris invented racism.
Others get their surprise by playing off of commonly believed expectations:

Chuck Norris’s driver’s license photo looks amazing.

Some rely on a bit of wordplay:

Chuck Norris’s favorite power lunch is a dozen nine-volt batteries.

In these cases, the core topics were retaliation, ID photos, and “power lunch.” Keen readers will notice that the core topic is rarely Chuck Norris himself – for many of these facts you can swap out his name for someone else’s and often times the joke still holds.

I also mentioned style as a key component, and by “style,” I actually mean syntax and presentation. Many are short and direct like the ones I’ve already mentioned. Others get their humor from actually doing the opposite, being long-winded and using the length to build humor:

Chuck Norris owns the greatest poker face of all time. It helped him win the 1983 World Series of Poker despite his holding just a joker, a Get Out of Jail Free Monopoly card, a 2 of clubs, a 7 of spades, and a green number 4 card from the game Uno.

What makes the books particularly awesome are that a number of the facts were also illustrated (the digital versions of the latest title also have some in color) which adds a whole new spin to things. A so-so written fact can easily become an incredible illustrated fact and adding the illustration can make a great written fact
even better.

Chuck Norris discovered cold fusion when he poured two beers into one glass.

Of course, the popularity of the meme has led to trying to cater to all readers. People in business suits would visit my website just as often as frat guys chugging PBR’s to Walker, Texas Ranger. Such a varied audience is especially difficult to cater to and explains why as you flip through any of my books that some facts may resonate with you a lot better than others.

There’s a whole lot more that goes into writing these books but the process gets a lot more complicated. If you’re up for learning more, feel free to drop me a line! You can find my contact information and a bunch of other interesting things over at

About the Author:

Ian is a serial entrepreneur, digital experience strategist using brain science, creativity, and technology to make awesome/new/good things happen. Unrelated-but-relevant: NYT bestselling author/creator of Chuck Norris Facts.
The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of Girl Who Reads.

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