Not everyone wants to make a career out of writing. For some, the pleasure in writing comes not from the paycheck sent after a 30-day invoice, but from the very act of writing itself. What's more, there are ample places for the new writer to hone her skills on the Internet with a supportive peer group. If you've been tinkering around with your stories and want to get some feedback, you won't want for places to share them online.
Places to Share Stories
There are different places for you to share the stories you write for fun. Each type of website has its own appeal and drawbacks. After evaluating your options, you might choose to register on a number of sites and see which you like best. Alternately, you might find that different types of sites give you different types of feedback, allowing you to get a fuller picture of what others think of your writing. Finally, you can use sites like the following as a prompt for when you don't have anything good to write.
Forums are a popular place for amateur writers to hone their skills. One part of a forum's appeal is the informal nature. Most people posting on writing forums know that feedback should always be constructive. Indeed, many sites take pains to eliminate forum trolls who have nothing to offer you in the way of feedback other than bile and tactless, unconstructive criticism. Some sites also restrict access to members only, meaning that you don't have to worry about people who are not a part of the forum seeing what you have worked on. It is often expected that "you get what you give," so if you want feedback you're going to need to give it. Some popular forums for writers include:
- WritingForums.org has a forum for nearly every kind of writing. From short stories to poetry to role playing games, if you can write it, WF.org has a forum where you can get feedback on it.
- Writing.com allows writers the opportunity to share their work with other writers, as well as compete with their fellow forum members in a variety of contests offered through the website.
- WritingForums.com is not to be confused with its similarly named counterpart. WF.com lets you post short stories, poetry and even full scripts for feedback from members.
Online Critique Groups
Online critique groups are another level of seriousness above forums. Indeed, many such groups explicitly bill themselves as being for "serious" writers. What this means for you is that you'd better have some chops going into the group or you're going to possibly get a rude awakening. While you should never tolerate people being rude or cruel in their critique, it is only natural to expect that people who are more serious about their writing will subject yours to harsher criticism. Unless you've been drafting stories since you were in grade school, start with forums and work your way up to these online critique groups.
- Scribophile bills itself as a "respectful community of writers who're passionate about improving each other's writing." That's about what you should expect from an online critique group. The site works around karma points where people's good feedback is encouraged through community policing.
- Critters is one of the most famous and popular online critique groups on the Internet. The site is dedicated exclusively to science fiction, fantasy and horror writing, so if you're working on a spy novel or a piece of literary fiction about a family in crisis, this probably isn't the place for you -- unless you're writing about a family of vampires.
- Critique Circle is a free online critique group for serious writers. The site is kept on a pretty tight lockdown so you shouldn't worry about the public seeing your stories.
When you're ready to take your writing to the world at large, you can start looking into non-paying markets. These are places where you can publicly showcase your work for nothing more than the pleasure of seeing your name in print. Non-paying markets include everything from traditional literary magazines to online websites that exist for no other reason than showcasing the work of talented amateur writers. Places to find non-paying markets that suit you include:
- AbsoluteWrite.com maintains a forum exclusively dedicated to non-paying markets.
- Dowse.com keeps a running list of both on- and off-line non-paying markets.
You can also consult the print edition of Writer's Market for non-paying markets you would like to appear in. Don't discount the idea of starting your own blog or website out of hand, either. It's a cheap and easy way to reach thousands of followers from the comfort of your home.
Writing for the Pleasure
Unlike professional writers who have to crank out thousands of words every day just to pay the rent, you can let the muse move you as she will. There's no need for you to write until you have a compelling interest and reason to share your story. For the amateur, writing a story is like playing golf or going for a swim -- you have no reason to do it other than the pleasure you take away.