By Alex Fayle
Copyright © 2008 by Alex Fayle, All Rights Reserved
Anyone who does any
web-based research most likely has come across About.com, which provides
expert-created information and links to other sites, as well as tools,
questionnaires and guides to as many as 53 million people a month. The
Fiction Writing Guide at
http://fictionwriting.about.com/ covers many different aspects of
the writing process and profession. The site is useful for not only the
beginner writer but also the more experienced one.
The Guide is written by
Ginny Wiehardt, a creative writing instructor, published author and
poet, and editor. With her broad experience, she knows the business from
all angles, offering information through short articles, interviews, a
newsletter, a blog, writing prompts, and an email short story course.
As with most About.com
Guides, Wiehardt succeeds through her use of short articles that provide
concentrated information, and provide it without either word clutter or
selling the reader anything. The selling happens with the various ads
that cover the pages (the major drawback to the site – but About.com
does need to make money somehow).
The thing I like most about
the Fiction Writing Guide is the mix of creative and business help. For
example, in the article Top 6 Questions to Ask Yourself: Are You
Ready to Publish? (http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/thebusinessofwriting/tp/ready2pub.htm),
Wiehardt asks how much writing we have ready for submission, suggesting
that a portfolio of at least several short stories is best as we can
resubmit new stories quickly to editors who like our style but didn't
accept the initial submitted story. Next, she suggests that feedback
from other writers is essential for creating a professional impression.
The third question focuses on the administrative work required to pursue
a writing career, while the fourth asks about research: Do we know what
markets our stories fit? Do we know the styles of specific markets we
want to submit to? The fifth question addresses the issue of rejection
-- are we ready for it? If not, she says, it might be better to focus on
writing more before exposing ourselves to the "whims of the publishing
world." Finally, she sends us off to look at other articles, providing
us with links to related topics. Before reading this article, I hadn't
thought of having a stable of stories ready for submission, and have
since started building up my portfolio of short fiction while continuing
other writing projects.
As well as articles such as
the above, Wiehardt offers a newsletter and teaches a short story
writing course via email. These are great resources for people who
prefer to have information pushed out to them instead of going to look
for it. The Forum has no threads and most posts go unanswered. However,
this lack of interactivity doesn't affect the quality of the articles.
Why would I recommend this
website? For the mix of creative and business issues related to writing.
Whenever I want to find out something about the writing profession, or
want something to help me push past a block in my own writing, I can
visit About.com, flip through the articles, and learn something new or
be reminded of something I've forgotten.