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Can't catch a break trying to get an honest criticism from friends about your writing? Well the issue is now obsolete because of the number of online writing communities dedicated to novice writers. Just so you don't know on which tile to step, this article is meant to guide you along, based on genre, style, and other preferences you may have. www.sffworld.com/ Anyone remotely associated with science fiction writing, science fiction reading, or even science fiction movie watching belongs here. This is probably the biggest community dedicated to science fiction alone. With sections for reviews for science fiction books, movies, games, comics, art, to blogs and news, there is just about everything. And most importantly: the forums, where one can post one's work and expect generous feedback. The forums are broken down for science fiction, fantasy, horror and general fiction, all though the most active are the ones for fantasy and science fiction. Be it constructive criticism you want, or just fun discussions about your favourite sci-fi novel, this is the place to be. What makes the forums unique is there's a specific section called Collaborative Stories where members can team up and work on a story together. The community has around 12, 000 members and is comparatively cozy.

www.fictionpress.com/ FictionPress is where you get to post your work without fear of plagiarism or theft. It's a relatively large community of original-only-writing. There are two categories in the front page, Fiction and Poetry, and this further breaks down to around 21 sub-categories, based genre-wise. The fact that the front page holds direct links to the posted works of individuals shows that this site means business. Members can post their work and this is pretty much the only site that puts a copyright notice on the author's work. Activity is a little slower in this site as there are lots of works posted everyday, and they are not sorted in the best possible way. Members are allowed to review each other's work, so feedback is usually much more helpful than other sites, when you do get them. The forums are good places to blow a little steam and discuss almost anything remotely related to writing, yours or others. www.fanfiction.net/ the site is solely dedicated to fan fictions. The format and layout is exactly like FictionPress, the only different being content. There are categories for movies, TV shows, cartoons, even though the most posts are under Anime/Manga. Fan fictions are often debated regarding originality, but here, if you're a fan-fiction writer, you'll find your kind and no one will point a finger.

Things here run the same way as it does in FictionPress, with the exception of copyright notices (it's fan-fiction after all).
www.writing.com/ with the tagline the online community for writers and readers of all interests and skill levels writing.com is perhaps the oldest and one of the oldest writing communities online. Members get to have their own blog and portfolio. Navigation around the site is smooth, and for those looking for useful criticism, there is a separate tab only for 'My Feedback'. Members can add other's works as feedback, and subscribe to genre based newsletters. The weekly newsletters contain the week's best writing, based on that particular genre; the community is as much for readers as it is for writers. www.unknowncommunity.com/ the name of the site makes reference to the fact that the members are unknown writers. It's a good place to start off, everyone treats everyone else equally. The front page is regularly changed and holds the best poems, songs, writings, journals and polls of the day. The site is abstract in that it has no particular aim and sometimes navigation can be hard. Members are few and one cannot expect much feedback on works. The best thing about this community is how it is completely underground and not at all driven by commercialism. The creator of the site describes it as “being able to share thoughts, feelings and experiences. It is not just about being able to express yourself. It is about being able to be part of something constructive.” And that really is what the site is about.

These five different writing communities, very different in style, should be quite enough to get started. However while participating in these communities, it is important to remember that you will not be treated kindly if you go about self-publicizing and only asking for feedback without giving any. Expect about one comment for every ten that you give. If popularity is what you seek you're better off at social networking sites. And moreover, the more thoroughly you scrutinize other's works to help them, the better you get at your own work.

By Ahsan Sajid



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