Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

Web Review

Making the Connection

Writer's Digest Web Site

 Reviewed by J. Harlowe

© 2002, J. Harlowe

Many established magazines refuse to make the leap to the worldwide web. Those that do are often unable to transition their strengths from the printed page to the virtual one, and become little more than an advertisement for their print counterpart. Writer’s Digest not only makes the leap, but demonstrates how to do it right. Those familiar with Writer’s Digest (the magazine) will feel at home at writersdigest.com (the website).  

Always focused on improving writing skills, the WD web site shares the same mission as the magazine, but with a recognition of both the power and the limitations the web format represents. The designers clearly realize their readers are poised in front of a keyboard and are ready to work. The articles chosen for inclusion on the web seem shorter than the standard magazine articles, and the result is an almost subliminal urge is to use those suggestions immediately!  

Links are plentiful as well, with a combination of longer articles and short tips, as well as market information, Q&A archives, and message boards. The site is actually a well-provisioned chest of treasures, featuring the expertise and insights offered every month by Writer’s Digest magazine in an interactive online format.  

Let’s take a quick look around the site and see what jewels we can find! 

Writer’s Digest has always had two goals for their readers, and these are summed up by the first links at the site: Write Better and Get Published! Joining these links are two others, Getting Creative and Finding Resources. Each is a doorway to three short articles that help the writer achieve their goals, a quick look at troublesome grammar points, or a guide to markets.  Another section offers an item on building story lines, drawn from the pages of a book on the subject. Each section offers the searcher enough to keep them interested, but not too much to carry back to the base camp!  

The site also delves into the five major markets that WD has always addressed: Fiction, Non-fiction, Children’s, Poetry, and Screenwriting. Each section offers at least two  articles with a specific skew toward the topic in question. 

Of course, WD has always been about resources for writers. There’s links there as well, with writer’s guidelines, contests, and conferences, as well as connections to books, magazines and forums.  There are also quick links that greet you each time you enter writersdigest.com. Who could resist checking the links to Market of the Day, or a Tip of the Day to improve your skills? There’s also a Writing Prompt to get you started pounding the keys! 

As long as we are touring the site, we do need to mention that this is clearly Writer’s Digest, and the site follows the magazine in many aspects. This includes the blurring of the line separating promoting the writer and promoting the company. Every page has an invitation to a course, workshop or book sold by Writer’s Digest. They are not obnoxious, like many ads online are, but be aware they are also not clearly an advertisement. Until you become use to the design, you may pursue what appears to be a link to an article on improving your writing, only to find it is actually an invitation to purchase a course or a book. They are not bothersome, and there is no “trap” intended or implied. Simply back out and go on – unless of course you want the item. They’ll be more than happy to sell it to you. Speaking as someone with numerous Writer’s Digest books surrounding me, their books are worth the price. Understand, too, that the promise of the web is only fulfilled if companies can achieve income from the web.  

Also, don’t overlook the emailed newsletters offered by the WD website. Most writers will find at least one that strikes their interest, and you will not be disappointed in the results. Each newsletter cuts to the heart of the issues, and offers readers enough information in the newsletter to refresh you on a busy day, and provides a reminder to visit the site again. 

I’m certain you have found websites you enjoy, but they don’t change often enough to keep your interest, or you simply forget to return in the busy day-to-day world of competing attractions. Writer’s Digest brings the strength of the monthly magazine to the web, and leverages those resources to keep their website freshly stocked with information that all writers can use. The website compliments, rather than replaces, the magazine. Visit www.writersdigest.com  and see how a successful magazine makes the web work for their readers.