On writing communities – SF-OWW

A while ago, I posted an entry about getting your work read in a writing workshop. As extension to that post, I thought to give writers the opportunity to write about the writing communities/workshops to which they belong. Below is the first such entry, about the US-based Online Writing Workshop for SF, Fantasy and Horror. I belonged to this group myself for four years, but asked my writing friend, editor of Flash Me Magazine, Jennifer Dawson (who’s been a member for much longer) to write this entry. Her words pretty much speak for themselves, but I can endorse them: this site is worth belonging to, even though it’s not free.

The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/) is an online community of writers who help each other improve their work. I have been a member of OWW for more than eight years and have found the workshop invaluable for polishing short stories and novels. It’s the perfect place for new writers who need help making their stories publishable. It’s also a great place for published authors who like feedback before sending stories out into the publishing world. With a wide variety of members with varying degrees of experience, OWW is a huge watering hole where you can develop friendships and connections.
Through the website you can post your writing for reviews, critique interesting work by others, participate in writing-related discussions, and browse their extensive list of resources for writers. They have two yahoo discussion groups available for members to meet and greet, a member directory, and features that allow you to search all posted stories by genre, target audience, and type of post (short stories, chapters, synopses, etc).
Every month their Resident Editors – professionals in the speculative-fiction field with experience and publications to their names – review selected submissions for members to read and learn from. The workshop also thanks their current most active reviewers on the front page of the workshop. Add to that a Reviewer Honor Roll where members nominate top reviewers and thank them publicly, and you’ll see that OWW offers more extras than any other writing workshop.
Many published authors have been or are currently members of OWW; you may recognize some of them: Suzanne McLeod, Ilona Andrews, Ron Leming, C. C. Finlay, Elizabeth Bear, Sherry Thompson, Sarah Prineas, Ian Tregillis, Carlos Cortes, and Joshua Palmatier. Those are just a few that have books out now.
The strengths of this workshop are the available resources, the wide range of submissions available to review, and the multitude of people who participate. It’s a deep well of stories, novels, new authors and published ones. That said, it’s not an intimate workshop. To be reviewed, you’ll need to review others, and try to develop reviewing relationships. The plus side is that you can focus on reviewing authors who write your genre and are on your level of writing so you can both learn from the process. The downside is that you can’t jump in and expect dozens of reviews on your submissions – it takes time to develop relationships and lure new readers in. You get out of the workshop what you put into it. You choose your own level of participation.
OWW offers a free 30-day membership so you can test-drive the workshop. This comes with four review points so you can post your first submission before contributing any reviews. After that, the rest is up to you. If you’re new to writing workshops, there are great articles on the OWW website on how to review, and I’d recommend reading them (and a few reviews) before giving your first reviews. I’d also recommend mentioning that you are a trial member in your first few reviews so those authors can try to return the favor of a review before your trial period is up. Be honest, but constructive, review a wide range of authors, and review posts similar to your post – similar genre and word count.
After a one-month free trial, an annual membership costs a reasonable $49 a year. They also sell smaller memberships for those who prefer shorter commitments. It is well worth the money, and I would recommend the workshop to any writer.

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3 comments on “On writing communities – SF-OWW

  1. I’ve been a member for two or three years, and I find the help invaluable. When I read works by people who don’t have the benefit of a decent critique group, I can really see the difference that OWW makes. These are people who approach their craft professionally, and are willing to help anyone who wants to do the same.

  2. Hooray for the OWW!

    This is a terrific summary and description of the Online Writing Workshop. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anybody who wants to improve their writing. I can say, with no exaggeration, that the OWW changed my life. And my writing 🙂

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