Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Website Review:

About.com Fiction Writing Guide

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.