“Stand Out from the Crowd!”: Literary Advice in Online Writing Communities
Authors: Thomas, B.
This chapter provides a detailed analysis of the different levels of advice online writing communities offer aspiring writers, from the overt provision of “writing tips” and guidelines, to the role of authoritative intermediaries such as moderators and beta readers, and the peer-to-peer feedback provided by way of ongoing informal comments. Case studies will be taken from bespoke writing platforms such as Wattpad, but will also consider the role of fan communities and the kinds of support structures they offer. Analysis will focus on the extent to which advice is predicated on the traditional formal features of the writing (dialogue, characterization) or on reader engagement and self-promotion. It will also explore whether such advice is prescriptive and reflective of practices and norms inherited from traditional cultural gatekeepers, and the degree to which the work produced within these communities can ever be described as experimental, playful, or subversive.
Stand out from the Crowd! Literary Advice in Online Communities
Authors: Thomas, B.
Conference: Lit com: A conference on Literature and Communities
Dates: 2-3 March 2017Abstract:
The world wide web has made it easier than ever for writers to publish their work and receive instantaneous feedback from potentially vast audiences. Whether writers are motivated by a passion for a pre-existing fictional world, as in the case of fanfiction, or aspire to become professional writers able to market and distribute their work, they can readily find a community tailored to their particular needs. Online writing communities have been hailed by both established writers and cultural theorists as ‘democratic’ (Pugh 2005) spaces where the boundaries between writing and reading, producing and consuming content are often eroded. Many of these communities are free to join, and in contrast to top-down guides offered by experts, advice is reciprocal, almost always supportive (Thomas 2011) and provided as part of the writing process rather than retrospectively. This paper will provide detailed analysis of the role online writing communities play in offering aspiring writers advice ranging from the overt provision of ‘writing tips’ to peer-to-peer informal comments. The discussion will also consider whether such advice is predicated more on traditional formal features of the writing (dialogue, characterisation) or on reader engagement and self-promotion.