Do you dabble in the art of creative writing? Perhaps you like to practice in poetry? Since you clicked this article, I’m assuming the answer is yes.
The thing with having writing as a hobby is that sometimes it can be really hard to put yourself out there. I mean, if you enjoy sports you can join a team, or if you like to do crafts you can make gifts out of your work and get feedback that way. It’s not so easy if you’re a writer, especially a younger one. To help you out, below I’ve listed three of my favourite websites that I use to get legitimate feedback that I can say has certainly helped me improve and hone my skills.
Number one: fictionpress.com
What I love so much about FictionPress (or FP as us regular users like to call it, mainly because it makes us sound cooler than we actually are) is how damn easy it is to use. You register using your Google, Twitter, Facebook or a regular email account, and away you go. In terms of how it actually works, it’s simple. You write your story or poem, you organise what you’ve written into chapters (I would generally recommend having up to 2,000 words in each chapter, any more and people will get bored), you copy and paste your text into a tab called ‘Doc manager,’ you then hit publish, organise a title and brief summary for your story, and bam, you’re an instant online author!! The site has a nice feel, is so user-friendly your grandparents could use it and has a really diverse community that in my experience, will never be hateful or rude in their reviews.
On the topic of reviews (excellent segway, I know), wracking them up can admittedly be hard sometimes. Since the site has such a large community, most of which are only interested in writing and not reading other’s work, finding really decent reviews is a struggle. However there is an excellent solution to that: join the review game!! Under the tab titled ‘forum’ is a thread named the review game. It has an explanation as the first post, but essentially the way it works is like a massive review chain. You review the story the person that posted last had requested, then write your own post saying you’ve reviewed the person’s piece and then name what story of your own you want reviewed. Easy as pie, and the people on there are often very serious writers, so you can get some great constructive criticism.
Tips and tricks:
- Make sure to write a really snappy summary as it is this that will pull your readers in. You have a limited amount of characters, so make the most of them!! If you’re not sure how to best sum up your story, poke around at other people’s summaries and see how they’ve written theirs.
- Use the private messaging feature to your advantage! Fiction Press isn’t some seedy underground chatroom, the concept of stranger danger doesn’t apply to harshly on a website filled with writers. If someone reviews your story or poem, shoot them a message to thank them. This has a double positive effect, it will make the person want to come back and review your next chapter, and you can make some really great friends! I know it sounds a little weird, but I met one of my best friends on the site after I shot her a brief message thanking her for her kind review!
- Like I said in the previous message, engaging in the community can have some real benefits. If you review other people’s work without them having to prompt you, chances are they’re going to click on your profile and take a look at some of your stuff. Now, this isn’t guaranteed to work all the time, but it’s kind of a what goes around comes around scenario. Every review you post is just another way to put yourself out there!
Number Two: fanfiction.net
Before you scoff in disgust yes, I am talking about fan fiction. I’m sure you’ve heard the term once or twice. You know, the stuff one direction obsessed twelve year olds write that includes ALOT of explicit content that will scar you permanently for life? While that stereotype many be partly true, just hear me out for a second. Writing fan fiction is an excellent way to improve your skills as a writer. Furthermore, you do not have to write smut (the name given to all those icky stories). There are plenty of another genres: angst, adventure, romance (but not the gross type), and so on. Personally, I find fan fiction so great because it’s like writing a normal piece but with half the work. Not to discredit fan fiction writers at all, but it does make sense that when you have the characters all laid out of you, generally the narrative voice you’re going to use, as well as some idea of the plot it makes the job a whole lot easier. Another benefit to writing fan fiction is the amount of reads you’ll get for it. Since the ratio of readers to writers on fanfiction.net is swung so heavily in the writer’s favour it means that almost anyone can get a thousand views at least. Once I posted one chapter and overnight I got over five hundred views on it! If you bear in mind that it was my first story and only the third chapter, then this is absolutely insane!
Laying the benefits of writing fan fiction aside, the website fanfiction.net is set out almost exactly the same as it’s sister site Fiction Press. You publish your work in the same way and receive reviews in the same way. The only major difference is that instead of categorising your stories into genre, fanfiction.net categorises into the separate fandoms (the TV show, book, movie or person you’re writing about) and then readers can search for separate genres within the particular fandom they are interested in.
Tips and tricks:
- If your main interest is to get a lot of reviews, try to write for one of the bigger fandoms. Id you’re into a series like Harry Potter or you like the watch Glee, opt for that instead of a lesser known topic.
- Just like with FictionPress, fanfiction.net has a review game. The down side to fanfiction.net is that often the reviews are only a few words long, because people aren’t so much interested in the quality of the writing as which character you’ve paired with which. If you’re writing fan fiction for fun then it probably isn’t necessary to get involved, but if you want proper critique use the tools you’ve been given!!
- As with FictionPress, get involved in the communities! Chat on the forums and read other’s stories, it really is the best way to get publicity for your own writing.
- On fanfiction.net you have the option to create a bio for yourself, so your readers can learn more about you. If you’re using the fanfiction in tandem with another website, then put the link to your profile page on the other website in your fanfiction bio!! No other writing website comes even close to the traffic you’re going to get on your fanfiction profile page, so think smart and use it to your advantage!
Number three: youngwriterssociety.com
The third, lesser known site that I highly recommend is Young Writer’s Society (YWS for short). The major difference between a site like YWS and a site like Fiction Press is the quality of the writing. YWS is moderated, meaning badly written pieces with many grammatical or spelling mistakes will not be published. Furthermore, YWS has a points system that means you are limited to the number of stories or chapters you can post. It may sound unfair, but it’s actually quite an ingenious system. By reviewing other people’s work you earn credits, which you then use to post your own work. This means that your story is practically guaranteed to be reviewed. YWS is also based a lot more around the community. It’s a relatively small site with very active forums. The administrators of the site organise a newsletter every month that users can enter articles into, and huge review events take place often, where you can earn double points for reviews and so on. In terms of the layout, the site is fairly solid. It’s not as easy to use as some sites, but then again it definitely doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out.
Tips and tricks:
- This is probably starting to get repetitive, but engage in the community. YWS in particular has an amazing little community, with some really talented writers and generally awesome people. Submit an article for the newsletter, try to review a lot and participate in some of the forums. Especially if you’re a newcomer, it’s the best way to learn how to navigate the site and make new friends.
- Make sure you have a decent number of reviews and followers before your story hits chapter five or so. If you don’t build up enough interest in the first chapters of your story it can be an issue, as once it gets to a certain length no one can be bothered reading it from the start just to get come extra review credits!
Finally, I just want to give a friendly reminder that if you’re passionate about writing and/or thinking of making a career in it, publishing your work online is the best possible option for you. It allows you to improve and can really boost your self-confidence if your work is received well. As well as this it allows you to engage with others who share interests and you can find yourself making scores of really good friends. I know that sharing your work and putting yourself out there for other people to critique can be a terrifying notion, but honestly in my years of using these websites I’ve barely had any reviews that I could classify as ‘mean,’ and none which I couldn’t shake off afterwards. I hop reading this had inspired you and helped you make a decision about which website to use to publish your writing.
Have a great day and happy writing!