One word. Feedback.

Yup, you can read all the books you want, read blogs till you’re cross-eyed, but reading and learning are two different things and at some point, you have to stop reading and start doing.

People will tell you that writing makes you a strong writer, and that’s true—to a degree, but unless someone reads your work and shows you the weak spots, how are you going to learn and avoid making the same mistakes next time? It’s feedback from people who are willing to give you an honest opinion on your work, and show you how to improve it that makes a good story. Question is, are you willing to listen to them?
The best place to find these helpful souls is on writing forums. These web sites are a wealth of writing information. You can learn just about anything you need from them, and as a bonus, meet other writers and create friendships. The only drawback—at first glance, these forums appear overwhelming or intimidating, but trust me, they’re not. They’re friendly, places. No one is there to poke fun at your or your work. Everyone is in the same boat.

How can you tell a good forum from a bad one? I guess that comes down to personal preference. Each person has a different set of variable that make a site appealing, but a few things they should have are;

1. Active membership. There are plenty of sites that have large member base, but how active are the member? Do they post something every day? Every other day? Once a week? New sites with low membership can look quiet, but if big groups are intimidating, perhaps something small is more your speed, but if the last post was dated more than two weeks prior, I would pass. As a rule, when I come across a new site I find the Administrator and check to see when they last posted. If someone can’t be bothered to keep their own site updated, then chances are, it’s not a good place to hang.

2. Forum content. How well organized is the forum? Are their multiple boards with various topics of conversations? Are there specialty boards for certain genres? I think in order for a forum to be successful, there should be several categories so writers of all genres can gather and pass on their knowledge.

3. Most writing forums have a place where members can post their story and get feedback. Is this an open board or is it password protected so visitors can’t view? If the feedback board is open, I stay away. It’s too easy for people to copy and paste and in two clicks your story is gone.

These are three that I really like. They’re open genre, but have multiple boards.

http://agentqueryconnect.com/

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

http://www.critiquecircle.com/

~Happy Writing~

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About Darke Conteur
Darke Conteur is a writer at the mercy of her Muse. The author of stories in several genres, she prefers to create within the realms Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy. A pagan at heart, her personal goal it to find her balance within nature; exploring the dark through her stories and the light through her beliefs. When not writing or working with crystals, she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking and very loud music.

2 Responses to

  1. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for this post. I hadn’t heard of critique circle before. I’m just now to the point that I feel confident enough to give a critique back. When I first started at AQ, people expected feedback on stories if you receive it, but I felt SO unqualified to do that. So I went away to be a better writer first. I think I could do a better job critiquing somebody else’s work now.

    • You know, I find that it doesn’t matter at what skill level the reader is at, if you see it then an agent/editor will definitely see it. Don’t ever feel like your opinion is any less than anyone elses.

      C.C is a good place. I ran my last three shorts through there and got good feedback. Enough that helped to get it published. 🙂

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