1. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    A Call For Volunteers

    Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Daniel, May 25, 2013.

    Hello everyone,

    It's been my pleasure to have run and participated in this amazing writing community. I've been very busy with university, especially this last year (18 hours last semester!) and haven't had time to really focus on turning this place into what I envision it to be. Now that I'm out of school, I'd like to devote my time to make this happen. I have big plans for the future of WritingForums.org. Over the next few weeks and months I'll be adding several new features to WF that I'm sure many of you will find useful. However, several of these additions are things that I cannot do on my own. I'm going to need a team - two or three teams, actually. I need a few teams of dedicated, knowledgeable, senior members to make these projects happen.

    Specifically, I'd like to add a writing article/blog section, which would include quality articles on everything from creating an ebook to publishing to developing characters. I'd like it to teach us writers things that many of us don't know; it should be a resource that helps us develop writing skills and to achieve our long-term writing goals. I'd like it to be a learning resource. I will, of course, write many of these articles myself, but if I'm to add an articles section and turn it into what I envision it to be, I need a team of members who are knowledgeable in a variety of writing subjects to write for the article/blog section, and to do so regularly.

    The second project I need your help with is the e-zine. In 2008 we had a short-lived e-zine that contained not only writing submissions, but also author interviews. It died out, but I'd like to revive it. We would including poetry, short stories, author interviews, valuable writing articles, and anything else worth including. This is a job for several people. We need a team. I created this thread a while back regarding possible volunteer positions for the team. We don't need someone for every position, but we do need people. If you're interested you can vote in the poll, or better yet, PM me.

    There are many other opportunities for volunteering here at WF. Some are highlighted here, though the article section/blog and the e-zine are the first two priorities.

    Are these aspects of WritingForums.org that you'd like to see happen? Feel free to comment. What would make them the best they can be? Are you willing to volunteer? If you're willing and able to help with the articles section or developing the e-zine, please PM me so we can move these projects forward.
     
  2. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I am not sure I understand the "blog section", do you mean a common blog of writing articles where volunteers can post their articles? If it is then great. E-zine will be a step in the right direction, I enjoyed reading writers' interviews, always a source for inspiration.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I like the idea of having articles on subjects like publishing, but I don't know if articles on topics like plot and characters is a good idea. To use your example, how characters are developed varies from writer to writer, and an article on this issue would be too much like the millions of fiction writing guides out there. So I believe it's best not to include articles about topics like this and instead focus on articles about publishing, querying, etc. Of course, this is just my opinion, and I'd be interested to see what others think.
     
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  4. Isaiah JS
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    Isaiah JS Member

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    There's nothing wrong with providing more guides, especially when they are directed at a specific community. There are a lot of young writers here that would benefit from soaking up some more opinions. Even for experienced writers, hearing different perspectives and strategies can be helpful.
     
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  5. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Yes, something to that effect. It's basically writing-related articles except the main page will be blog-style, in that the homepage is constantly update with the most recent articles.


    Interesting point. I'd also be interested to hear feedback on this. Some topics could be genre-specific, and the author will be noted on the article, so I think readers would know that advice in articles on these topics aren't set in stone.

    So - any volunteers?
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Another option would be to have multiple authors featured in the same article or have different authors each write an article on the same topic so that there would be a variety of perspectives on topics like developing characters.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is a good point. It's entirely valid and helpful to discuss issues of craft here, and we do in the threads. We also disagree with each other strongly sometimes about the "right" way to write. I worry a little that if actual articles on craft appear here, they might be seen as presenting the "writingforums.org"-approved way of doing things. We have a lot of young members here who might think they must do develop characters and outline plots, etc., the way the articles recommend, simply because the articles bear the writingforums.org label.
     
  8. Isaiah JS
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    Isaiah JS Member

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    It's rare to see an author state that there is only one way to write, especially authors with enough experience to actually write these types of articles. Most will say "this is what I do", or "here are some tips you may find helpful".
     
  9. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Agree with isaiah that those articles will be more helpful than create confusion. Those who are serious will read those guides elsewhere so why not provide it here
     
  10. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I would love to read an article every week about anything regarding the writing craft. But all these replies so far and no one has offered to volunteer. I would like to volunteer to help on a piece here and there but I don't have a lot of experience in this type of thing. I think it would be a good idea to have a team leader for each group, someone who maybe is published or has some article experience to tell other, less experienced volunteers what to do.

    I understand people published probably don't have a lot of time to spend in forums, but at least this way, they can be involved but not have to be there all the time, and we can get enthusiastic, yet less experienced people involved. It would be a good learning process for them.
     
  11. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm more worried about the readers of the articles and not the writers. As minstrel mentioned, articles on such topics would be seen as the WF way of doing things, and young/inexperienced writers may blindly follow the advice given just like they would blindly follow the advice in a fiction writing guide. These articles are basically the equivalent of a fiction writing guide, and most members here agree that such guides aren't that helpful. I think the best place to discuss topics like this is in the forum itself.
     
  12. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    id be happy to do the odd bit and piece here and there, it will be an education for myself, and also, something for me to do outside of work (i work about 37.5 hours a week) id probably say the e-zine will be the better area for myself personally
     
  13. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Articles focusing on a fine point of a particular technique would do better than over-all articles on craft. The main problem with how to do books is that they are trying hit all the bases when there are many way to put it all together to form a novel or story. 'Course this means you'd need someone who'd actually know this technique well enough to be able to convey it to others.

    I don't think it a good idea to have "A" permanent craft writer--no one person can take on every aspect or variation of the craft of writing.

    Another problem with how to books or articles is that is very difficult to convey some of these complex ideas in a short article format. There are bound to be over looked subtleties and over simplified explanations.

    Though, it might not be so bad having a panel that members can submit articles for publication on craft techniques as they see or use them--which is the only thing that anyone can claim about writing craft.
     
  14. Isaiah JS
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    Isaiah JS Member

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    First of all, when an author adds a disclaimer that the article is only what he does, and not necessarily the only way to do things, that should eliminate this "blind following" that you speak of. If someone chooses to take it as Gospel, then they are just not careful readers and nothing can be done about it. And if everyone believed so little in the young writer demographic, then we would have to conclude never to write anything in case a young person sees it.

    The forum may be a better place for discussion, but I don't have a strong opinion about that either way.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Many novice writers, in their eagerness to learn, read books on how to write. As we all know, there are hundreds of these books. Most of them aren't very helpful (Sturgeon's Law: Ninety percent of anything is crap. That applies to how-to-write books.).

    We could help some of these novice writers along, I think, if some of us would write reviews of these books. That would afford an opportunity to discuss writing techniques, but those discussions would be in the context of the books being reviewed, so it wouldn't appear that WF is endorsing those techniques.

    I've read quite a few of these books. I'd be willing to review some of them for the forum. Does anybody else think this would be helpful?
     
  16. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    That is not a bad idea. I have read well over 200 how to books. There was always someone who based their argument that I couldn't know what I was talking about because I hadn't read the particular how to book that they had, and after a while it became sort of a hobby. Mostly I found that the ones that were of some assistance pretty much all said the same things--though of course, from their own perspective--but that within the juxtaposition of their differing perspectives did help shed light on the inherent intangibles of our craft.

    But then again, to have one person reviewing how too books, that still could be--even though less so--viewed as WF endorsing or damming particular how too books.
     
  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was thinking of having several reviewers. Also, there's no reason why a given book shouldn't be reviewed by more than one member. That way we could have more than one point of view on a given book. (I'd recommend, of course, that two or more reviews only be published here for very popular books, such as Stephen King's On Writing.)

    That way, I think we'd avoid having the reviews taken as WF endorsements.
     
  18. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    The only way WF wouldn't look as if it were endorsing or damming particular books is by not assigning any particular member(s) to the task of reviewing them in the first place. Picking a how to book then allowing any member that wishes to post a review of it would be the only way to avoid making actual or appearing to be making endorsements.
     
  19. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I understand your concern, specially when the articles are to be contributed by mostly aspiring writers. However, I have seen some excellent advice/blog articles here which are way better than many bull-crap yet popular guides available on the internet and beyond. I had completed an online writing class after spending about one and half years here and I found out that the help and advice I receive on this site are of no less quality, if not better, than what I got from the writing class. I am also sure if any mis-advice (sorry, limited vocab. The right word will come after 2/3 hours :( ) on any of the articles on the proposed blog, believe me, people here will pounce on it and rip it apart, or at least voice our disagreement (Yes Minstrel, there will be a comment area), which is good. We usually don't do this when we disagree with something on other guides, either out of lack of confidence or simply we don't care. So, let's rest assured that people reading those articles here will always get both sides of the coin.

    Secondly, let's not deny the so called inexperienced writer (I still consider myself to be one) the chance to discover for themselves what works and what doesn't as they discover their writing voice. Let's give them some credit and let's have faith in their judgement. They may find some advice/guides contradictory, they may even be confuse but if they are serious about finding out the essence of good writing, and if they persist, they will surely find light at the end of the tunnel in the form of their writing voice. And you know what, they will find out some advice which seem to have come from heaven itself are completely useless to them, and some advice from hell might suit their voices perfectly fine. At least this has been my own experience even though the light at the end of the tunnel is not yet shining brightly in my case :)

    I think the proposed blog will still have the flavor of the existing discussion threads, only the excellent advice hidden in the dense forest of threads (becoming denser by the day) will now be given a prominent place.

    This leads us to a suggestion I want to make to Daniel: we can select some such replies from the discussion/critique/whatever threads and use them as posts for the proposed blog. May be then I can volunteer to search for such replies.

    rhduke, I didn't volunteer because I don't think I have enough experience to write such articles, and more importantly I don't think I have the ability to defend my articles. I like the idea of experience members as team leader/editor.
     
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  20. Isaiah JS
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    Isaiah JS Member

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    A much simpler solution is to make a blanket disclaimer that WF does not endorse any book, and the views expressed in articles solely belong to the author of the article.
     
  21. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Which is useless because if WF is in fact appointing someone (or a group) to review books this person is bound to express their own prejudice on that subject, topic, or author. It can't be helped. However, if any member can post a review, then in that case personal prejudicial reviews actually become a benefit rather than a detraction, as that would promote discussion and therefore, a deeper investigation of the review, while WF remains neutral on the matter.
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So let's make it so anyone can post a review, not just a selected group of members. That's good. I think something like this could not only help guide the novices towards books that might be useful, but would also encourage them to think deeply about the craft and contribute intelligently to discussions of not only the books, but the craft itself.

    I'd love to hear what Daniel thinks about this.
     
  23. Isaiah JS
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    Isaiah JS Member

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    I personally have no interest in reading that many amateur reviews of anything. I don't know anyone who would. Too many articles would actually diminish meaningful discussion. Having a few reviewers, as someone suggested earlier, would solve the problem of single-bias while preventing the problems of mass-reviewing.

    And publications post disclaimers like that all the time. One of my favorite movies, Hitch, opens with "the views expressed in this film are solely those of the speakers".
     
  24. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Yeah, but I was thinking that it is still useful for someone or group to post the starter by calling the book or even author to be reviewed (as I'm writing this I'm also thinking that this can be expanded to review discussion threads other than just how too books.

    You know like, Books by Robert Stone, or To Kill A Mockingbird. Or even (shutters) Post Your Favorite Dan Brown-ism. ;-P
     
  25. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    You don't have to read anything you do not want to.


    But it wouldn't both remove all organisational bias on the matter and involve the maximum number of members in participating in exactly the type of discussion and exploration that grows both character and craft expertise. By allowing both "amateur" as you put it, and more experienced writers to both exchange ways of thought with one another you accelerate the learning curve and provide ample opportunity for lively debate and relief from occasional boredom.

    Besides, it was made clear that one of the goals of all this was to aide in the education of newer devotees to the art of writing. Which is--I believe--every writers obligation.
     

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