Sunday, May 24, 2009

Joining A Writers' Forum -- Pros and Cons In My Opinion

I know, I know... it's been a while, a long, long while. My time away from here has been well spent... more or less. I wanted to try out a website --a writers' forum for showcasing and critiquing work--to see how beneficial it might be. After a couple of months, I've come to some interesting observations and conclusions.

The website is and is open to anyone who is serious about writing, sharing their work and/or critiquing others. After spending what I felt was an adequate amount of time being actively involved both in submitting writing pieces and reviewing others' works, I found both pros and cons to the site.

I'll start with the negatives. First of all, while other writers' sites are free to join, fanstory has a price, if you want to partake in all features such as submitting your writing or entering contests. It's $6.95 a month or $48 for a year's membership. For limited use, there is a "free" membership. Once you join, you may post as many writings as you like, though you may be limited to how many you post in a twenty-four hour period, depending on the category. You may enter contests, but many of them cost member dollars. Member dollars can be accumulated by reviewing others' works. When you search for pieces to review, you will find that each offers anywhere from 2 cents to over a dollar in exchange for your comments. Each time you review you add the "money" to your "account". Then after you accumulate a significant amount you can use your member dollars to help promote your posted work. Also, member dollars can be purchased with a charge card, if you don't review that much and need the bucks. I think you can see where I am going with this. Members who post work that offers a sizable amount of member dollars and cents will get the most reviews because members want to accumulate dollars, as much as and as quickly as they can, so they in turn can offer big bucks to promote their work to get lots of reviews. Whew! Are you as dizzy as I am? Do you feel like the mouse on the treadmill? As for contests, many of them, which can be created by members as well as the fanstory staff, may be free or may charge member dollars to enter. Yet, another way for you to make money as well as spend it.

However, there are several benefits to this forum. First, there are many stellar reviewers on board. They offer some great insight and are painfully honest at times. But then again, isn't that what you want? Not a pat on the back from Aunt Maude, telling you what a wonderful writer you are, when in fact your work may be crap. So, in this respect you may have the opportunity to improve some aspects of your writing. Another perk involves reading others' works. You get the opportunity to see what's out there, both good and bad. And in reviewing you may learn things as well. With the contests, though you may find some that cost to enter, if you win, you take away the "pot" and with the staff generated contests the winner may take away a gift card for as much as $100. Overall, this forum encourages you to write, to keep practicing your craft. Rather like taking an exercise class to keep you disciplined and in shape. In my experience, I came away with a splendid reviewer who now critiques my work through an email exchange. I feel fortunate in that respect.

So, would I recommend fanstory? I think it is worth trying out, if you have a lot of time to devote to it. The site has a significant following and many neat features to participate in. It is well-organized, very user friendly, and monitored for any inappropriate activity (at least that is what they claim). The main drawback -- and this is what makes it less than fair -- is the use of member dollars. Too often, though not always, the work that gets the most reviews and wins many of the contests is the one that offers the most member dollars as a payoff. Still, it is worth a look. It doesn't cost anything to peruse the site, or even to partake in some of the features. But for the "full course meal" you're going to have to pay. There are other writers' forums out there. You should check them out before spending money on any. Happy writing!