Monday, September 16, 2013

Welcome to On Fiction Writing, a community for writers, founded by writers.
 
Two scribes founded On Fiction Writing (OFW): Renee Miller and Carlos J. Cortes. With several other talented writers they moderated a fiction writing group on Goodreads.com that grew to more than 1400 members. This group made it clear to Carlos and Renee that there was a need for a community that not only promotes published authors, but nurtures and feeds the talent of those still finding their way. OFW was launched in January, 2012, and continues to grow like ivy.
 
Carlos J. Cortes is a research engineer specializing in remote-source lighting, and a writer. Although born in Madrid, he lives in Barcelona (as you enter the Mediterranean Sea, go up the coast and bear left).
 
Carlos writes non-fiction in Spanish and fiction in English. His published works include seven text books on light physics, lighting and fiber optics; three co-authored manuals on Competition Bridge and scores of articles on technical and professional journals.
 
He’s also published two novels with Random House, a short-story collection with a handful of mongrel writers and a writer’s manual with Renée Miller.
 
Renee Miller has published articles in local papers and various online publications. She has five completed novels she prefers to call “almost published”, and she’s published short fiction in assorted anthologies. In the early days of her writing career, Renee struggled with rules, techniques and etiquette. She still does, but without the support and encouragement of the community of writers she met on Goodreads and in other online groups, she’d never have finished a single book.
 
The decision to build On Fiction Writing, the website, stemmed from a perverse sense of masochism, and a devotion to the craft of writing. Renee, Carlos, and OFW’s superb editors, feel deep affection for the people who’ve helped them achieve their dreams, and feel the need to “pay it forward” by providing a place where writers of all skill levels can learn, grow, and promote themselves in a supportive network of like-minded souls.
 
For more information about OFW’s many features, please read the list below. If you’d like to work with OFW, please contact Renee or Carlos at [email protected]. While we can’t pay you—the website is free and thus, we have no money—we love promoting and working with talented, hard-working writers.
 
AGORA
Agora houses OFW’s discussion forums. Before posting, take a moment to read OFW’s code of conduct. Please, refrain from childish bullying and other forum nastiness, and treat each other with respect.
 
Within Agora you will find two forums:
 
1.      Writer’s Cafe: From the germ of an idea to picking your book at Barnes & Noble there’s a maze every writer must navigate. In the Writer’s Cafe, we discuss storytelling and the hazardous road to publication in its many guises from the standpoint of craft and technique. This forum is not a showcase or an arena to promote our particular works. We seek to debate how we research, structure, plot, draft, edit, write, and rewrite our novels. How we format, condense, and prepare synopsis, proposals, blurbs, and hooks. And how we plan our assault to the seemingly impregnable fortress of the establishment: agents and publishers.
 
2.      The Tribe: On Fiction Writing contains many features and sections that educate, promote, and encourage writers to improve their craft. Together, we area tribe of mongrel writers and every tribe needs a meeting place; somewhere to discuss, debate, give feedback and ask questions. This is our meeting ground. Pants are optional, but socks are a must.
 
WORKSHOPS
E-LEARNING*: Give voices and stories to the characters that fill your imagination. Whether your fantasies take the form of short stories or novels, this workshop prepares you to write fiction. You will apply the techniques that generations of fiction writers have used to bring their characters and stories to life. You will also develop your individual style of creative expression.
 
*Coming soon: This section is still under construction.
 
PEER REVIEW: Reviewing the work of others and identifying the flaws and weaknesses in their prose, often highlights similar problems in our work. To encourage the exchange of reviews, we have structured participation in Peer Review into a point system: Your first submission is free, but after that, to post an item for critique by your peers costs three points, and you will earn one point for every substantive review.
 
SHOWCASE
The showcase is a free space for writers to display their published work, regardless of the mechanics—e-book, traditionally or self-published. Read the submission guidelines and submit your work, free of charge and at any time.
 
RESOURCES
A listing of links and contact information related to resources valuable to writers. Includes agents, editors, graphic artists, software, and more. If you would like a resource added to this list, please submit it to OFW Chief Editor, Renee Miller. ([email protected])
 
INQUISITION*
The Inquisition is not a critique group.
 
We are building a dreadful place; a dungeon with one single stout chair bolted to the floor where the wretched scribes who dared submitting their ill-conceived and shoddily executed manuscripts, will endure the harshest punishment from pitiless critics. The inquisitors will tear apart paragraphs, scenes, and chapters. They will demand justification for each flaw, deaf to the puny excuses of the author, before dictating harrowing condemnations.
 
Would you like to be an Inquisitor for OFW? Contact Carlos or Renee at [email protected] for more information.
 
*Coming soon. Dungeon still under construction
 
THE MALL*
We are building The Mall as a concept environment for writers. The mall will be a department store, a shopping center with sections, outlets, and shops laden with goods and services especially conceived for the workers of the pen. Our staff are busy scouring the known universe to fill The Mall’s shelves with exceptional products, from wine and gourmet foods to apparel, clothing and electronics; from cruises and retreats to sexy underwear and toys; from pens and pencils to Egyptian linen, freebies and wonderful gifts.
 
*Coming Soon... etc.
 
E-ZINE CONTENTS
 
EDITORIAL
Each week Carlos or Renee writes a piece about writers, writing or the industry, embodying the ethics, aesthetics and philosophy of OFW.
 
The Soapbox
A weekly rant about writers, writing or the industry penned by an OFW member or editor. Have something you want to get off your chest? Submit your article today.
 
Spotlight
A weekly feature in which OFW’s editors present a clear, unbiased, responsible, accurate and non-partisan review of a book published by any kind of publisher. We rate quality of prose and fiction technique, not possible sales. Our rating system can be explained as follows:
 
The review contemplates these ten aspects of writing.
 
Narrative
Plot
Characterization
Technique
Dialogue
Pace
Style
Structure
Atmosphere
Grammar & Syntax
 
On a hypothetical 0-10 scale—where 0 is illiteracy and 10 the loftiest heights a piece of prose could ever attain—we disregarded both extremes. We couldn’t award a 0 to any work. To do so would entail a logical fallacy since an illiterate writer is impossible; illiterate means unable to read or write. We couldn’t award a 10 to any work either. To do so would entail another logical fallacy: perfection cannot exist in the real world.
 
If we rated fiction with a decimal point, from 0 to 10 there would be one-hundred steps. Removing the unachievable we were left with 98 steps: from 0.1 to 9.9
 
Next we pondered which writer we could set on the midpoint of our scale; a writer, not exceptional, but not bad either. For the spot, we chose Stephen King. His writing is intelligent and he has a seemingly effortless knack for plot, characterization, pace and atmosphere. There’s brilliancy in his ability to intertwine his characters. The main problem with King is the genre in which he writes; a genre that keeps him from being taken seriously. King’s work will probably be remembered, but never considered a classic like the writing of Gore Vidal, Kurt Vonnegut or Jack Kerouac.
 
Setting King’s work at 5 brought our rating system into focus. Thomas Harris and Anne Rice would definitely rate higher than King but below Vonnegut. Again, we would rate Salinger, Woolf and Faulkner higher than Vonnegut but lower than Hemmingway, Conrad or Dickens.
 
At the other side of Stephen King, we placed writers like Nora Roberts and followed lower down by Sandra Brown, Charlaine Harris, and our own Carlos. A step lower we would place the writing of Dan Brown and Dean Koontz and lower still, the prose of or Stephanie Meyer or Tim LaHaye.
 
As a result, we compiled the following scale:
 
 0 — Impossible
 1 — Stephanie Meyer / Tim LaHaye.
 2 — Dan Brown / Dean Koontz
 3 — Charlaine Harris / Carlos J Cortés
 4 — John Grisham / J.K Rowling,
 5 — Stephen King
 6 — Thomas Harris / Anne Rice
 7 — Kurt Vonnegut / Jack Kerouac.
 8 — William Faulkner / Virginia Woolf
 9 — Ernest Hemmingway / Charles Dickens
10 — Impossible
 
Partisan? Subjective? Of course, it couldn’t be any other way. Does it matter that Conrad never sold a fraction of what Ms. Meyer does? Again, it doesn’t. There’s fashion in writing, and weird marketing at play. Jules Verne was a poor writer. Yet, his stories fascinated generations of young and old.
 
To appraise entails comparison, and the only sensible way to rate quality of writing is to compare it with others. We are sure every writer would have crafted the scale with different names, but the result would be similar. There’s literature, excellent writing, good writing, passable writing and poor writing, regardless of sales.
 
The point a writer should ponder—before ranting about the marks awarded to his prose—is not whether Kerouac should climb to number nine or Carlos descend to number one, but whether his work compares with those on the list sharing his rating.
 
Interview
A weekly interview with a published writer or industry professional (agent, editor, publisher, etc.). At OFW we focus on no-bullshit interviews that are about the person being interviewed, and not promotional pieces intended to sell his books. Above all, the interview illustrates the reader, rather than giving the subject a platform for ego-stroking.
 
The Rack
Similar in intent to the Interview, the Rack is a set interview (grilling) with a writer (including OFW members) or industry player (agent, editor, publisher, etc.). The questions are meant to prevent a simple “yes or no” answer. In the Rack you must give your opinion, good or bad, and if you don’t, our editors turn the gears.
 
Monthly Contest
A monthly short-story contest proposed by OFW Chief Editor, Renee Miller. Each contest is intended to gather submissions for a different anthology which will showcase the talent of our members. Submissions run all year, so check out previous months as well.
 
Featured Article
A weekly feature consisting of a serious and insightful article written by a writer (OFW editors and/or members), or industry player (agent, editor, publisher, etc.) The theme must be related to writing or the publishing industry. Examples are Foreign Rights; Dialogue formatting; Cover design; External Editors; E-Publishing; Future Publishing, etc. These articles are submitted for approval to our editorial board. If accepted, the article will be published on our e-zine homepage. Read previous articles before submitting. We welcome well-written articles. If you have a candidate, please submit it to OFW Chief Editor, Renee Miller. ([email protected])
 
Mockingbird
Gossip, rumors, hearsay, unsubstantiated claims; anything not published by a respectable source relating to writing or the industry. This is a fun, eclectic section and there’s some leeway on the nature of the newsworthy pieces: blogs, tweets, next door neighbor, friends, postman, etc.
 
Quote of the Day
A writing quotation with author and source if known. Members are welcome to submit their favorite quotes to [email protected]
 
Terms of the Trade
A technical word and its description.
 
The Word
A word, its description and two examples of usage.
 
Doubts
A possible doubt between two words or the usage of a term, its description, and examples of usage.
 
Hindsight
A calendar of past and historical events having to do with writing and/ or the literary world and referenced by date.
 
NYT Bestsellers
Feed from NYT
 
TAKE TEN
A daily “top ten” list relating to writing, publishing, books, etc. written with humor or satire. These pieces may be informative, but always have a little bite. Members are welcome to submit their own Take Tens to OFW Chief Editor, Renee Miller ([email protected]).
 
MUSE
This daily prompt is intended to inspire writers, and to prove that writer’s block is a myth...or all in your head. The inspiration is out there, you just need to find it. We’ll help you along each day by providing an image, a line, a question, or an idea that is intended to light a fire under the ass of your muse.
 
GHOST WRITER
A weekly feature in which OFW editors and members speak to the ghosts or departed writers. Think you know your favorite dead author enough to interview him? Show us. Send submissions to [email protected].