Have you tried an online writing forum?


Credit: SkyLightRain.com

Credit: SkyLightRain.com

When I began working on pre-production to publish Perceval’s Secret, I also thought about what to do with a couple short stories I had finished.  At the time, I wasn’t a member of a writing group, i.e. a group of writers who share their work and give feedback.  Could there be a writing group online I could join?  Or something similar?

It turns out that there are opportunities to share one’s writing and receive feedback online.  If you have a blog, you can post your writing there and ask for feedback in the comments section.  You can join an online class like those offered by The Loft. the Zoetrope Virtual Studio, or  the Gotham Writing Workshop.  Just google “online writing classes” for other possibilities.  Or you can join an online writing forum like FanStory.com or Wattpad.com.

Two years ago, I joined Wattpad. It was free and it was easy.  I posted both “The Light Chamber” and “The Negligee” there.  Then I began looking around the website.  And reading other writers’ works.  The membership looked quite young, certainly younger than me.  The stories I read were awful, usually just an idea with a character that wasn’t developed.  No plot.  No story.  No character development, action, and sometimes very little dialogue.  Mildly alarmed, I nevertheless decided to give Wattpad more time.

At first, I participated at Wattpad, reading stories, rating them and leaving comments.  I joined several groups but then didn’t know what was really expected of me in each one.  I began to sense that taking part in the Wattpad community might mean a large time commitment.  It was more of a networking site, I thought, making connections possible among writers, which is fine.  But my purpose of joining the site was to receive feedback on my stories.

My "Office"

My “Office”

Other writers did read my stories, but none left comments much less feedback.  I asked for the feedback, also.  As time went on, I learned that I was putting in far more time into the site than I was getting out of it.  “The Light Chamber” has had a total of 37 reads, and “The Negligee” a total of 45. If the lack of interest in my stories is because I didn’t actively promote them enough on the site, then that’s my fault.  Maybe they weren’t interesting or badly written, I don’t know — no one left a comment to that effect.  The feedback I left for the stories I read also went nowhere even though I made it as constructive as I could and invited discussion.

Then a thought struck me between the eyes.  Wattpad was more about popularity than an actual writing forum in which writers read other writers’ work and gave feedback.  Is that true of all the writing forums online?  I don’t know, but I suspect that’s the case.  At any rate, I’ve decided to take down my stories from Wattpad.

What do you do to find a real writing feedback group instead of one online?  It may not be as difficult as you might imagine, unless you live out in the country far from an urban center.  I’ve discovered that MeetUp can be helpful, as well as local writing organizations, neighborhood associations, and colleges in the area.  In the Twin Cities, we have The Loft which offers classes and workshops, readings, and a place for writers to meet.  I’ve seen writing groups listed at the Loft’s Community Postings pages.

A-hand-writing-with-a-pen-006

I’m very curious to hear from other writers about their experiences with online writer forums.  Have you used one or more?  Was a good or bad experience?  Would you recommend it to other writers?  Are you a member of an offline writing feedback group?  Please respond in the comments section below!

 

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8 responses to “Have you tried an online writing forum?

  1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Courting popularity has always been a way to get attention as a writer, and the Internet seems to amplify that – so many people wanting to be heard. I think my experience with WordPress so far is that there are many talented people here who also care about good writing, but I would be wary of actually criticising someone’s story unless I knew for sure they wanted (and could cope with) that. Maybe if it’s something you feel strongly about, you should start your own – a blog based on honest feedback, no circle jerks. I’d join.

    • You bring up a good point about giving feedback, inkbiotic. I understood Wattpad to be a forum in which feedback was expected. Obviously I didn’t get that right! Not looking to start my own writing feedback site, though. Online stuff already eats up way too much of my time and I need to preserve my writing time. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! Hope you’ll return.

  2. Have you tried Scribophile? I’ve been very impressed, and a number of writer friends using it have gotten published. I’m in Dallas-Fort Worth, and am fortunate to be part of a few active writing and critique groups.

    • I have not tried Scribophile — this is the first I’ve heard of it. I’ll check it out. I also live in a large metro area and have more opportunities for writing groups, too. I had hoped to pull in a broader readership with an online forum, and I think that could be a big pro for one. Thanks for reading and taking the time to write a comment!

  3. I’m the member of an online forum, quite private, by invite only. It has really helped me polish my work.

    When looking for feedback I always try to join a group where the members are ahead of me in the writing journey.

    • That may be the secret to online forums, Damyanti. Private and by invite only. I haven’t been very happy with the public versions, although there’s more of a promotional opportunity available with them, reaching more readers if you can drum up the buzz. Thanks for the comment!

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