On-Line Writing Workshops

Let me state up front that I’ve tried Writing.com, and that I liked it, but for the wrong reasons. Whatever you write…it gets praised, even if you’re copying the Yellow Pages. Also, too much poetry.

Is anyone here aware of any writing workshops of a critical bent out in the Internet Ether? I’d prefer one with an emphasis on critiquing ongoing work (as a piece) as opposed to a short form review (whatever that means).

If I have to pay a little, so be it.

Have any Dopers had a good (or bad, for that matter) with a workshops that has a critical view?



Thanks, RealityChuck. Look like a decent workshop…I’ll probably try it, along with the others mentioned in he referenced Salon article.

I don’t like that Terms of use on Zoetrope’s site, though…


What didn’t you like about Zoetrope?

I’ve had several pieces critiqued there, and out of all the writing sites I’ve found, it’s been the best as far as people looking at your writing with a critical eye. They also have a whole lot of really, really good writers there, which counts for a lot IMO.

Never been to Zoetrope, Athena. I’m looking forward to checking it out.

What I didn’t like was the reference in Salon’s article to the Terms of Use, wherein they mention a public-domain waiver. I’d rather not have all of my effort go into something they can take at will.

Or…am I misreading that?

I was in ‘the writery cafe’, hosted by a missouri site. I was young, wild, and English was my second language. There were lots of crazy people there, not unlike this place here actually, and I even ended up teaching there (and cyberdating and co-writing poetry with an Australian mother of two). It used to be an email subscription, and I have no idea if it still exists, though one of our ‘Anthologies’ is still out there on the web, I believe. I might even still be hosting it somewhere, as I think I designed that website back then.

I’m not a fabulous master of the English language, and certainly lack the feel and touch of someone who lives in an English speaking country. But I studied English literature and one of my majors was narrative technology. There are few story-telling techniques and style formats out there that I don’t know the details of. You can only learn the craft part of art anyway, the rest you have to learn from life.

I tell you what. There are a lot of talented writers here on the board. Why don’t we open a creative writing thread, and see how that works out?


I wouldn’t mind doing so, but I had something with a little more bandwidth in mind. I’d like to begin work on something novel-sized, and I’d like to get chapter-by-chapter critiques.

I’m not sure if the Reader wants to allow for a bunch of lunatics writing down rough drafts and taking up too much space.

Thanks for the idea, though.


I think you are. The link from the Salon article to the Zoetrope terms of use doesn’t currently work, but my take on it is the following:

  • story ideas are public domain, whether they appear on Zoetrope or anyplace else. Meaning: you can write a story with the same basic plot as any story or book if you want. What you can’t do is plagarise, that is, copy a large part of the story/book/whatever word-for-word.

  • Copyright-wise, Zoetrope doesn’t want to get in the middle of any disputes, so it has a standard disclaimer.

  • The minute you create a piece it’s copyrighted. Nobody can legally steal it from you, even if you write it on the sidewalk or publish it on every web site you can find. It’s yours, you own the copyright, at least until you sell all or part of it.

  • Selling stuff: You typically want to sell First North American Rights to their piece. What that means is that you’re selling the right to be the first place in North America to publish a piece. You still own the overall copyright, you’re just letting this other place publish it. Once the first rights are sold, you can sell reprint rights. Or you can sell all rights, if you want, but most people don’t.

Where it gets trick is that if you’ve already published the piece - and websites count as “publishing” - then the first rights are considered taken. However, most publishers acknowledge that a password-protected “writer’s workshop” type place does not invalidate the First Rights. So go ahead and publish all you want on places like Zoetrope; it won’t hurt you.

You could just host the stuff on a bit of your own website. That is also a good way of proving you own it, and since you don’t post it on anything but your own website, publishers later won’t ever be bothered by it having been published somewhere else before. Often they won’t take something for that reason. We can read it from there and critique in the thread. Just an idea, but it would work.

Of course, there is little wrong with workshop sites as suggested in this thread either.

Hmmm… my understanding has always been that if it’s published on a website, even one you own, it’s considered published and First North American Rights are gone.

I’ve submitted stuff I’ve put on my own website and online sites to print anthologies, and had it accepted.

It’s up to the editor, but many consider anything put up on a public website as “published” and will not buy first rights (which is what they usually buy). This is especially true of the bigger markets that pay for your work.

Look at it this way: Ellen Datlow will pay 20 cents a word for any story she accepts for scifiction.com. She isn’t interested in spending that sort of money if the story has already appeared on another website.