Searching for a pin in a haystack comes to mind when writers first begin their pursuit of quality writing resources. Simply typing in the keyword "writing" in a search engine such as Google will currently result in 604 million listings and even though a website might be on that first page of results does not necessarily mean that it's of any use to you.
|Finding the golden kernels among the bunch takes, a bit of experience.|
Becoming more definitive in your keyword searches still provides an overwhelming number of results. For example:
"How To Write" 17,600,000
"Writing resources" 872,000
"Writing links" 311,000
Adding further specifics, such as genre for example, still results in overwhelm:
"Writing poetry" 2,220,000
"Writing a novel" 1,360,000
"Writing mysteries" 88,900
So, here are some tips to help cut through the hype and connect you with quality writing resource sites that are there to assist you in your creative endeavour:
The name of the page displayed reveals a lot. For example: How to write a novel in X days or less. You can be pretty sure that the site is going to offer some form of course, e-book, or other sales hype. So, unless you're prepared to dust off your pocketbook, it's not going to present you with much in the way of useful resources.
If the page name is simply "How to write a novel," then you have to consider the summary definition displayed by the search engine describing the content of that page. If it reads something like "Tips from established authors" then you're pretty much assured that the site is going to offer you some free online tips about writing. Then again it could be a "lure" page.
Bear in mind, every site, even the one that has published this article, usually has some way of generating income. The difference between the above two examples is that one site is simply a sales system for a product, while the other may offer free, constructive information, generating revenue through other means. It invites further investigation.
So, using the "How to write a novel" website as an example, the next stage in identifying a quality writing resource site is to determine whether or not you are actually on the main page or within one of the indexed pages. Of course, the indexed page you found may provide exactly what it is that you are looking for, but after reading it over, try this: Change the address of the URL in your browser's address bar to just the main site. For example, if the address for the novel writing page was http://www.abc.com/how_to_write.html, then try the URL http://www.abc.com/. This should take you to their main page.
Once there, what you should find are numerous items of interest, services, and products. You should try to find the site's About page and read over who they are. Some pages listed in search results lure you to a site by offering a free resource. You then discover that the site offers paid manuscript editing services. Unless you're looking for an editor, you just got sucked into visiting a site that offers nothing more than that single page of free information and a bunch of sales hype.
You may have to sign up to a list to access all the goodies, but a free, quality, writing resource site offers at least the following at no charge:
- Resource links to other helpful writing sites
- Numerous articles on the genre you are seeking
- Book recommendations that cover the subject
- Query support via forums and/or email
- A newsletter, either accessible online or via an email subscription
Some of the best writing resource sites can be found quite easily by using the Best Of benchmark lists produced each year by The Writer Magazine, Writers Digest, and a number of other general writing information sites and trade publications, such as this one. Organizations and associations are other places to search, especially if the association specializes in the genre you are interested in learning more about. For example, here's a few:
I wish you much luck in your searches and hope you find what you seek.
Rowdy Rhodes is the Site Manager of The Freelance Writing Organization International and General Manager of Inkwell Newswatch (IN). He is also known to freelance an article or two when the fancy strikes him. If you are looking for written content for your web site, ezine, or print publication, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and he'll get back to you as soon as possible.