Writing Exercises: "Online Writers Communities"

Having gotten the in-person writing groups out of the way, now its time to talk about the online writing groups. Sometimes there just isn't time to attend in-person meetings in your community, which is perfectly acceptable, so there's always the option of online writing communities.

These communities however do come with their own set of rules, therefore there are some things one should be aware of before treading down this path. The approach is the same as an in-person group, go as a guest and get a feel for what people are submitting to the forum and or group and see if you fit in.

Alternatively, if you already have a group of writers in mind to join a community of your own, you can begin a group via Googledocs or LiveJournal.com. Get an account for either, create a room for everyone to upload their writing and you'll be ready.

Back to the topic of online communities and their rule book, regardless of whether you are running your own or joining one. Here's the thing, the rules are almost identical to the in-person communities in terms of critique and submitting your writing. The only difference is that online communities require and enforce a lot of moderation. This comes hand in hand with the fact that this is not a community that meets in person and, as we are all aware, people feel a particularly unhinged freedom to say whatever they want on the internet. This fact is especially relevant if your planning on running your own online community.

Aside from the disclaimer-esque advice above, you're more than welcome to jump right into an online community of writing. To get you started, here is a list of websites with online communities always looking for new members:

1) Scribophile

This website guarantees three solid critiques on each piece a writer submits. You have to upload comprehensive critiques of other members' works before you can even submit your own. The genres on this website range from flash fiction to poetry to memoir.

2) WritersCafe

This is the virtual equivalent of a writing group. This website offers classes, groups, information on publishing and agents, and writing contests.

3) The Writer's Beat

This is the destination for forums and bulletin boards which offer information on everything from craft to writing to writing markets and a Writer's Café where writers are invited to hang out and mingle with other writers.

4) Absolute Write

Organized by topical forums, it caters to a wide selection of writers and genres, ranging from novelists to business and technical writers to bloggers. This website also features an Ask the Agent section and an online book club. It's a very comprehensive online writers forum.

5) Authonomy Writers Community

This website was provided by publisher HarperCollins. Basically, this is how it works: self-published and unpublished authors are invited to upload their unpublished manuscripts to this website for the community to read. Viewers of the website can comment and even recommend your piece to the community.

6) Writing.com

This website first appeared in 2000, this one boasts over 800,000 members to date. The features are pretty cool, especially since you get to build your portfolio here,have dozens of writing contests at your fingertips and, obviously, meet other writers.

7) Nothing Binding

This one is a bit more of a social networking site for writers, published authors and readers. This will end up being more of a destination for those who have published to network and chat.

8) Review Fuse

This site offers all kinds of authors to submit their work for review, as well as submit second, third and fourth drafts of what they're having reviewed. Its a clever system because, not only do you get to review pieces as well, but the website's moderators will sort you (based upon your ratings from other writers) with writers that will be most helpful to critique your work.

9) Hatrack River Writers Workshop

For authors only over eighteen years old, this website offers guidelines on how to give helpful, polite, and focused feedback. Features writing prompts to get you started. The Fragments and Feedback section invites writers to submit the first thirteen lines of a manuscript and asks for volunteers to read all of it. Or submitting writers can just ask for feedback on those thirteen lines.

10) BookRix

You can publish an e-book for free through BookRix. The Honest Opinions section offers member review and feedback.

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