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Free Online Creative Writing Programs

 by Michael LaRocca


This article sponsored by:

A concise point-blank instructional book perfect for those of us who need step-by-step guidance and instruction on writing better. Includes chapters on overcoming writer's block and ways to find the right agent for your work. I highly recommend this one for the beginning or seasoned writer. 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get...





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 part.

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.

Electric Acorn
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.

Novelist's Workshop
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 is an American living in Hong Kong, and he's been a full-time author and editor since December 2000.
His website is designed to help you find the best free & low-cost quality reads, and to help you improve/publish/promote your own
writing free and avoid scams.