When I first thought about writing as a career I looked around and wondered where I could possibly get the experience I felt I needed to “make it”. I knew I would improve as a writer simply by writing but I also knew that, with proper feedback, I could grow as a writer that much faster. My problem was I had no idea where to go to get it or even how to go about it.
That situation has changed and for the better. Now that I’ve been writing and researching and networking with others for a while, I’ve come to realize just how many opportunities are out there to both write and receive feedback.
- Obviously, you can always write stories for your own pleasure. To do that you don’t anything more sophisticated than a pencil and paper. But what if you’re still at a point in your writing life where you want to writer about established characters and/or places? The fan fiction universe(s) is/are rich and varied. Now before you protest that many people have said that if you are preparing to write as a career you should avoid fan fiction let me explain my reasoning. Fan fiction is a great place to learn how to writer characters in a way that readers will accept. It might just help you to master creating multi-dimensional characters that are already known to you. Once you have mastered that, you can start creating your own. The same is true for the setting. Your success will be measured by readers who are also familiar with the universe you’re writing in. They’ll tell you if your work is good or not. Just be ready for the criticism.
- You can try is to write for a specific target. A great example of this is a contest. There are many (many) contests out there for short stories and longer fiction alike. The contests usually have pretty well-defined rules to work within. Those rules can provide you with the structure to get started. Some contests even offer feedback as part of the prize.
- Critique groups can be found in many places. The advantage to a critique group is you will have multiple (usually) sets of eyes reviewing your work. The thing to keep in mind is that you will also be expected to provide feedback to others. The one I use the most is Critters.org.
- Put your work out for others to read and enjoy. There are a number of free sites out there. Pick one and sign up. The challenges to this option is getting people to visit your site and using something like “Creative Commons” to protect your work. One example of a free service is WordPress. You can also use social media sites like Facebook. While Facebook is not specifically designed to that purpose, you can still post your fiction (short) there.
- Many publishers and agents are now accepting submissions electronically. If you feel that your work has progressed to the point where you want to try submitting it, it’s easier than ever before to do so. Before you do, spend some time researching the market and the requirements of the agent or publisher. Then follow their requirements as closely as possible. Make sure what you’re submitting is of the highest possible quality.
I’ve spoken specifically of Internet-based opportunities. You can also find equivalents to many of the above in traditional ways. The Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market books are one example of an excellent resource you can get at your local library. They list publishers, agents, and contests that might appeal to you.
It may seem daunting when you begin, but there is a plethora of possibilities out there. All you need is to spend some time searching and researching the marketplace.
Well, unfortunately ‘Get Published’ didn’t win a Parsec… this year. I’m already gearing up for next year. I’m also hard at work on a number of projects: I’m gearing up for another NanoWriMo, I have my SciFi Comedy serial to write and I’m working on my Fantasy novel. Lots to keep me busy.