As a writer, finding a second pair of eyes to read your work and give an opinion on it is invaluable. Often times, we are too close to our stories to see them as others might. Small mistakes in grammar, in spelling or entire concepts might simply fly by without our realizing it. Those second set of eyes, also known as beta-readers, set us on the right path again and allow us to fix our stories and make them better. A beta-reader is not a substitute for an experienced editor, but they can help make your manuscript more ready before submitting to that final editorial process.
It used to be that the only way you could find writing critiques for your work was to join a local writing society and participate in their in person critique groups. The critiques take a great deal of time and effort and you generally can only have one chapter or a single short story reviewed at a time.
Over the years, many online writer’s communities have sprung up on the internet. These are places that offer forums for writers to discuss topics of interest, a place to have a writing portfolio on display, and most importantly, a place to find others with writing experience to write reviews of your work. By going online you need not depart from your home, find a babysitter, or take up valuable time away from your writing. You are able to submit more than one story at a time to gain reviews to improve your work. Online writing communities are well worth the time to read new stories, educate yourself about your craft, and meet new friends with similar creative interests.
I am reviewing a few of the writing communities that can be found online and am giving my personal opinion. None of these communities have approached me to write a review about their services. There are many other communities available to writers in addition to the five that I am reviewing today.
“Scrib” is an online writing community for writers that are serious about improving their craft and making friends with other writers. You are able to post your work in progress for feedback and are encouraged to review other people’s work in turn. There are contests to enter and a writing academy to help improve your knowledge of the craft. When you post your work, it is set to only be viewable by fellow members of Scribophile and does not go out on the internet at large.
I found the site not only easy to navigate as a new user, but the built in help system to show you around the site was intuitive and through. I was intrigued to discover that you can post announcements to other members about where your work has published and that there is a novel progress bar in your profile similar to what you might find at Nanowrimo. The system runs on “karma points” that you earn via writing critiques on other writer’s work, thus encouraging you as an author to participate.
Scribophile has been listed as one of the more popular writer communities on the web and it is easy to see why. The community is free to join with a basic account and can be upgraded to premium status for a small monthly fee.
This is another web based community of writers for writers. You may post your poetry, short stories, novels, scripts, and screenplays into the system for review. There are contests to enter, online writing courses to participate in and a place where it is easy to set up an online portfolio to show to potential publishers. I noticed that there were also listings for publishers, literary agents and literary magazines to go through.
The profile in this system is very basic, there is no place to list your publications, you can’t import your blog and there is nothing special of note to make this site a good portfolio of your work.
I’ve been a member at Writer’s Cafe for some time, but I find it a little more difficult to connect with people there than in other communities. There is no real help system in place and you learn more by surfing the site than anything else.
This is one of the smaller and more intimate writing communities on the net. The coding there is unique and designed to be less graphic intensive so that it loads easily in your browser or on your phone. It is one of the few communities that I can access on the go as I travel and feel as comfortable navigating there with my phone or tablet as I do with my regular computer. That said, you do need to have a little understanding of how to write simple code in order to use the site. There are tutorials on WDC to help you learn how, but finding those tutorials can be difficult or even bewildering. While there is a “help 101” FAQ on what to do and how to get around on WDC, it is not very intuitive.
I find that WDC has one of the better organized portfolio systems on the net and once you join a few of the communities hosted on the site, writing friends are quickly made. It is possible to earn enough “gift points” to pay for your upgraded service where books, blogs and other features are offered to the user. You are able to set your work to be seen by only by yourself, a small select group of people, only system wide, or open it up to the entire net at your choice. This makes it handy for using as an review source. I also have enjoyed the writing courses offered at the “New Horizons Academy” at WDC. For a few dollars, you can take refresher courses in grammar, how to write poetry, the ins and outs of Nanowrimo, and there is an advanced writing course such as you might find at your local university.
I’ve been a member of this writing community for a long time and it is a place that I return to like a homing pigeon. You will not find this a place to be a portfolio for your work or having a detailed profile to promote yourself with, but you will find a very active and helpful writing community. It is all done via an old-fashioned style forums. There are many topics being discussed all pertaining to writers by writers that is as real and authentic as you can get. The water cooler is free to join and can be quite addicting. Give it a read. You will not be sorry.
I am new to Savvy Authors, but already I am hooked on the place. Several of my writing friends referred the community to me before I joined. It has extensive forums, an article system, blog system, a means to promote your published work and a long listing of high caliber workshops and writing courses at reasonable prices.
When you first arrive, the entire site is laid out in a logical manner. It is easy to find your way around the community and see what there is to offer. You can start with a free membership, a good way to go as you test out the system and see if it has something to offer you. An upgraded membership is $30 a year and this gains you discounts on the workshops and access to additional features. The site hosts a standard graphical interface that is found in most website communities these days and you should have no problems learning to get around.