Free Online Creative Writing Programs
edited: Wednesday, April 10, 2002
By Michael A LaRocca
Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2002
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A way to improve your writing in a very short time and make it fit for publication
Free Online Creative Writing Programs
Copyright 2001, Michael LaRocca
(746 words. This article may be freely published or distributed
as long as the author's information at the bottom remains intact.
If you use it, please notify michaellarocca.lycos.com.)
Let's say you're a new author. Perhaps you've written some short
stories or poetry, maybe even a novel. So now what? Possibly
you've shown it to the friends and family, and they've praised
it. But what next?
If you've tried to publish it, you've received rejections. We've
all heard stories of the author who was rejected hundreds of
times before finally getting published and becoming a
millionaire. That's my story too, except for the millionaire
So now you wonder. Do you really have what it takes? If there's
something wrong that you can fix, a way to make your writing
better, how can you find out what it is? How do you get some
unbiased input from complete strangers?
The input of complete strangers is what every writer needs, and
the more the better. Your readers will be strangers. They'll buy
your book, take it home and read it, not knowing who you are. If
only you could know what those readers will think...
Writing workshops are an excellent way to make yourself a much
better writer in a very short time. Local and smail-mail
workshops have existed for a long time, and they're probably
useful. But now, thanks to the Internet, you can literally reach
thousands of fellow authors from around the world. It's free, so
do it. You have nothing to lose.
The way a workshop works is simple. You upload your stuff for
review, and in return you review someone else's stuff. These are
great for stories, poems, and articles. Novellas and novel
workshops exist, but I don't have the patience to read someone
else's novel-length rough draft. I also prefer website workshops
to e-mail workshops because the latter will fill your mailbox
with too much stuff that doesn't relate to you or your writing.
I warn you... most of what you read in the workshops will be
crap. But there are also some damn good writers out there, the
kind who make you say "He's that much better than me and he's not
published either?" You'll learn that reviewing the works of
others makes you a better writer as well. Consider this something
of a "trial by fire." Your writing will improve in a hurry, by
leaps and bounds, and you'll look at your own slush pile and
wonder how you ever wrote so badly.
You'll get some good advice and some bad advice. Consider every
word, even the personal attacks, but in the end use your own
judgment. You're writing for yourself, I presume. Some folks
don't like workshops because they're afraid to let other people
see their writing. They can't handle the criticism. If they write
for themselves alone, that's fine, but they'll never be
A final word of advice about workshops... keep the critiques!
Every one. I wish I'd known this at the time. When you finally do
become a skillful and successful published author, you'll want to
put up a promotional website. Your site will include reviews of
your writing. Until you get input from the book reviewers, which
I'll talk about later, you can use those workshop critiques.
Now then, here's my list of workshops:
The Wild East Forums (Asian)
They're seeking fiction and poetry. Great source of contest info
from all over the world. If they take your stories in their print
magazine, they pay up to US$1000. They also offer e-publishing.
Zoetrope Virtual Studio
Francis Ford Coppola's place. They take novellas, short stories,
scripts & screenplays. They also have places for artists and
actors. Massive number of users, and the possibility of paying
publication in their e-zine or printed magazine. Getting
published that way is difficult because it requires a consensus
among the readers, but you WILL get a lot of advice here.
An Irish workshop for poetry and short stories. You can be
accepted into their e-zine as well, which doesn't pay.
Internet Writing Workshop
This is an e-mail workshop which takes any writing, regardless of
style or length.
I haven't found time to visit this one yet, but sci-fi legend
Piers Anthony recommends it. It's for short fiction, you sign no
rights away, and you get valuable input. To paraphrase Mr.
Anthony, it'll tell you if you've got real talent or if you're
only fooling yourself.
Ya'll remind me to visit this one when I finish writing my new
novel. I've never been there before, and now I've sold
Michael LaRocca is the author of four published novels and an
EPPIE 2002 Award finalist. He's been working as a full-time
author and editor since December 1999. For a complete list of
his articles, all available via autoresponder, send a blank email