Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Writing Communities

The past few months have been an eye-opening experience, discovering how many resources are available for someone like me, who is as green as can be when it comes to writing and publishing. I suppose it all goes back to National Novel Writing Month and their incredibly helpful community, but onward I've plunged into finding what else is out there.

Yesterday evening I joined in an online chat over at She Writes, which is a pretty cool site for networking with other women writers. The topic was Young Adult fiction, and the atmosphere was inviting, collaborative and friendly. I bookmarked half a dozen new websites for future reference. It felt nice to have that comradarie among other women.

One thing that has newly piqued my interest is short story contests. I've stayed away from them since I was primarily working on my novel, but I have a few short stories I wrote the last couple of years that I thought I could revisit. One of the stories takes place in the same universe as my novel, and since I wrote it before the novel, it's kind of funny to see how I imagined things would work. I found a contest through Women on Writing, which seems fairly approachable and not too intimidating. It is for  flash fiction, which they define as between 250 - 750 words. I'm telling you, that is short. I had to hack up my short story pretty good to get down to 690 words or so, and it's now kind of a mess. I have until the end of May to submit it.

Which brings me to my next new discovery, a local writing critique group. My friend Catherine invited me, and we both made our initial visit in January. The group meets twice per month, and we just went back again at the end of March, this time picking up submissions to review for the next meeting. The group skews older in age, I think we may be the youngest ones there. They are professional, give constructive criticism, and the leader is excellent. He's a teacher, and you can tell. The group has a topic for discussion to start off the meeting, and I've learned quite a bit just from the two meetings I've attended.

I am timidly getting my flash fiction piece in decent enough shape to submit to the critique group. I figure it's a good start with something so short. The leader of the group submitted a few flash fiction stories for review back in January, which was my first exposure to that type of writing. If it's done well, it's pretty cool. If I don't feel confident enough I'm not going to submit, but I'm going to use the next few days to research flash fiction a bit more to see if I'm getting the right elements put together. Depending on how the critique goes, I will decide if I am going to submit to the contest.

To those of you reading who are writers/writers-to-be, are you part of a local critique group? Or, have you found a place online that works for you?


  1. I found most of my critique partners through writing workshops or online. My current CP's are online. Good luck with your flash fiction peice :-)

  2. I haven't been part of any writing groups since my workshop classes in college, but I did find those to be helpful.

    Also, The Creative Writers Opportunities List is one of the best resources for finding journals and contests accepting submissions for fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.

  3. I love when you're able to find some amazing places on the internet that also lead you straight to your own backyard. I've made my own group here in Houston where we get together and support authors at a local bookstore, enjoy some great food and talk of all things books! It's always been fantastic! As for blogging I'm absolutely addicted!

    Your blog is incredible and I'm now heading to check some of the links out. I love finding new ones! I do hope you'll stop by my place to say hello!!

  4. Thanks, Pete! I don't know how much I'll venture into contests, but once I get through more of my larger WIP I might do a few more.

    I'm still nervous about my upcoming critique! But I know it will be a good thing. So far, the only writing I've had go through an official critique is from a business writing course at work.

    Jen, I also have a great local bookstore that I'm just now interacting with regularly. I will defnitely stop by your blog. Thanks!

  5. Hey Steph! I don't have your email address so I'll respond to your comment on my blog here!!! My email is jenniferdaiker(at)gmail(dot)com just incase you want to keep chatting!!!

    You are more than welcome to still join in on the challenge and just hop over to everyone and tell them you're participating. Unfortunately we had to shut the link down because it requires SO MUCH TIME to even open the linky for changes. It wasn't that we still didn't want you to take part!

    As per our stories I'd love to know more about your story! If we became hot at the same time we could go on a book tour together since they have similiar parts to it! The in-between world is called The Travelers world and they track serial killers. Is it really like yours? That'd be so flipping awesome!!! Hope to hear from you!

  6. Love your blog! I never found the right critique group I guess, but others have found them to be very helpful. So I think it's a case of give it a try and see what happens! Just don't lose your voice. Hope you'll stop by my blog to say hi. And, I follow anyone who follows me!

  7. Thanks, Melissa! Since I'm new to the critique group, I'll have to see how it goes. So far I think I've learned a lot from reading the group's submissions. There is quite a varity of writing styles and skills, which makes me feel a little more confident.

  8. I first wanted to thank you for commenting on my Friday Speak Out post on WOW!...THANKS! It lead me here to your blog that I'll scour as soon as I'm done commenting on this post.

    I'm really enjoying flash fiction, since it seems that my creativity (for now) is limited to super short stories... which is still fun! Good luck on the contest!! Your blog also inspired me to play with the gadgets, so I'm trying to add them to my blog as well...hope I don't destroy anything in the process.

    Anyway...oodles & muches of luck on your writing career!

  9. I haven't written flash fiction, but always enjoy reading it. It reminds me a little of songwriting, where an entire story has to be told in a short piece of work.

  10. I see you have already discovered Nathan Bransford's blog. Have you ventured into the forums? It took me awhile to go from one to the other. I love the place, especially because it's one of the few forums for writers that is pretty much flame-free (with some occasional strong but civil disagreements). The Bransforumers like it that way and police themselves to keep it a friendly place for new visitors.

  11. Margo: Yes, I just started following his blog because I kept seeing other blogs referencing it. I also registered for the forums recently because there was an interesting topic linked from another site. I haven't explored it much yet, so it's good to know the atmosphere is welcoming. I've done the board forums thing for a long time and was part of a close knit but fairly hostile community for awhile (not to do w/ writing). It toughened me a bit but also taught me to always start w/ kindness rather than snark.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.