[ Issue 33 ]

Writing delights Emily Bronto

Permit Bikwil to reveal the delights of writing


Issue 33's Web Line column Tony Rogers devotes to some sites on writing.

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Web Line — Tony Rogers


You will be pleased to learn, I expect, that there’s no lack of information on the Internet for the budding writer (and the experienced one, too). By and large, this material falls into two main categories: help on writing skills and advice on getting published, though in many cases both areas are covered at the one site.

I’ll start with one of the best-known U.S. magazines on the subject, Writer’s Digest, now well established on the Web. Like the printed monthly, the site presents both types of assistance — perhaps with more emphasis on the marketing aspects of the writing life.

Many of its articles are extracts from the current printed issue or from recent Writer’s Digest books. For instance, on one visit to the site I discovered a feature on a WD special issue entitled Writing for the Web, with the text of several articles available for our perusal. Always prominent is a useful list of 101 Best Web Sites for Writers.

Although it is a commercial site, Free Advice from Cader Books, a U.S. publishing house, is deserving of a stopover. Set out as a series of questions with answers, this place concentrates, predictably, on how to get published. Subjects addressed include agents, editors, copyright protection, contracts . . .

Here are a couple of sites devoted to the needs of those who create content for the Internet. Contentious is a Web-zine run by Amy Gahran that caters for editors as well as writers. It contains substantial articles, current and archived from previous issues.

In similar vein is e-write, “the latest word in writing”. This site offers a free email newsletter on writing in the electronic age, as well a showcase of what it considers well-written Web sites. Another regular feature is its E-mail Message Makeover, which shows how to improve electronic business letters.

Critical Reading is another excellent site: “The Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing”. This is ideal for secondary school students and adults alike. Webmaster Dan Kurland “shows you how to recognize what a text says, what a text does, and what a text means by analyzing choices of content, language and structure”.

“A Place for Poets to Gather”, Shadow Poetry is dedicated to the goal of helping unknown poets come out of the shadows and gain recognition for their poetry. Apart from its large archive of poems (representing over 400 poets), this site features a strong interactive component, where poets can make constructive criticism of each other's work. There is also a creative writing workshop available, as well as a “What Is Poetry?” section to answer potential questions poets might have, using definitions and examples.

Speaking of constructive criticism, why not pay a visit to The Write Connection? This is a site for writers of all genres, where they can share their work and also seek and offer feedback from other writers. Genres include poetry, short stories, essays and fan fiction. There is a weekly newsletter available as well.

If by now you’re thinking that the U.S. has a monopoly on writing-oriented Web sites, you’d be right. There are two reasons for this, as I see it. First, of course, is the fact that the U.S. has a monopoly on Web sites, period, and probably always will. The second reason is that Americans (more than the English or Australians, say) like teaching things, and are pretty good at it too.

That said, let me mention a few Australian sites related to writing.

Very helpful is the Australian Copyright Council site. From here you can download many information sheets (over fifty of them). As well as things like Copying for Research or Study or Music & Copyright or Ideas: Legal Protection, some unexpected topics have rights implications, for instance, Games & Copyright and even Line Dancers & Copyright. All information sheets are in a process of continuous revision. A recent addition to the site are the online training modules.

If you want a free writing course or six home-study tutorials with personal tutor (not free), then these and much, much more (over 200 subpages) are available from a wonderful Aussie site called Write101. It's run by Jennifer Stewart, an ex-teacher of high school English. For fun, you could always add your own chapter to The Never-Ending Story. If you're game, that is.

Finally, a couple of UK sites on writing matters.

First Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau. Once again, this is a series of links elsewhere, but with a British slant. Constantly updated and reviewed, this inventory is distinguished by a sub-list entitled Fun with Words, which according to Harlish Goop is definitely worth a visit or two.

Mantex in Manchester, England, run a great site whose aim is to provide resources for learning, writing and business. There are objective book reviews, free resource materials for students, even a complete guide to essay writing. Downloads of demo learning software too, as well as the full versions for sale via the site. It has a free newsletter, not to mention a direct link to the Infonautics Electric Library, which is a search facility for publications of all sorts.

Visit Mantex often.

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