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Calling all writers, pro and otherwise

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FattyFattyPorkFace



Joined: 10 Aug 2004
Posts: 6381
Location: Michigan
Calling all writers, pro and otherwise  Reply with quote  

I use this excellent Q&A site for programming called StackOverflow.com. It's only a couple of years old and it has grown to be the largest programming site on the web, providing excellent answers to software development issues. It has even drawn some of the top professionals in the field to provide answers (and occasionally, even ask questions).

Now that has been successful and after starting some related sites, the force behind StackOverflow.com is asking for proposals for other sites. This is done via http://area51.stackexchange.com. Someone has proposed a site for authors and I'd love to see it get off the ground but in order for it to do so, it needs followers who can identify what should and shouldn't be allowed on the site (i.e. good questions such as how to frame a scene effectively, and bad questions such as on what page someone says some particular thing in some particular book).

So, if you're interested in an excellent resource for asking your author-type questions and providing support to other author-types, please follow this link and be a part of making the site.

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/1623/books-and-writing
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Post Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:58 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
mxlemore



Joined: 18 Sep 2008
Posts: 44
Location: Georgia
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Fatty, this sounds great and I've often wished there was something like it where I could go to cut through the gray areas of writing and get to the meat of what I wanted to know. Also, like you, I have visited StackOverflow many times as I am a programmer by trade. (It's a great site, btw!)

The only problem I see with a similar nuts-and-bolts site for writers is that writing, I think, is not structured in the way that computer development is. Sure, programmers can accomplish the same task using a variety of different approaches, algorithms, etc to accomplish the same task, but it has certain parameters and guidelines that one must follow to arrive at a result.

Writing is much more abstract than that. Writing is an art as is painting, drawing, photography, etc. There is no defined way to accomplish the task of writing, other than very loose guidelines: conceive and idea, sit your butt in the chair and write it, submit it to publishers, and hope to receive acceptance. Beyond these, writing is done so differently that trying to nail down the semantics is beyond a website's scope. Now if the site compiled data like the most common ways to format a query letter, or best practices of creating believable dialogue, and this data came from industry professionals (say published authors, literary agents, and editors) then I'd think it would be very successful. Still, there are so many facets that are different that it would leave writers in a quandary.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" Never has that statement been more true but when applied to art, be it writing, painting, sculpting, etc.
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Post Thu Jun 17, 2010 9:26 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
FattyFattyPorkFace



Joined: 10 Aug 2004
Posts: 6381
Location: Michigan
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I think software is as much a creative art as writing and writing has far more rules than you'd think. Everything you say about "art" fits to writing software for me too. It's a perfect fit in my mind for a QA-style site.

I would say why don't you try it and see. If it fails, then so be it - but why guess that it will? You've got nothing to lose, but you might just be standing in the way of something great.
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Post Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:52 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
mxlemore



Joined: 18 Sep 2008
Posts: 44
Location: Georgia
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Oh, don't get me wrong. I wasn't trying to totally discount you or anything. It was just my opinion that writing was more abstract and hard to pin down in a very structured way. I agree that there are definitely some aspects of writing that can follow structured guidelines.

BTW, I went to check out the proposal after commenting and I'm still in favor of promoting. I'd like to see a reference site for writers that will help with questions and quandarys.

I just don't want you to think I was trying to poo-poo your suggestion. I was simply voicing my own opinion about the writing process and, more specifically, how I approach it.
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Post Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:25 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Lauren



Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 1582
Location: Massachusetts
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It looks like a neat idea. My concern with it would be, do you have enough regular contributors who can weed out advice that's not only dubious, but potentially damaging to writers? It seems to me that a site like this could possibly attract a scam agent/publisher, looking to reel in unsuspecting hopefuls.

The fact that someone's question of "Is Dewey, Cheatem and Howe a legitimate literary agency?" is currently sitting at two votes for 'not a great example' and two votes for 'off-topic example' is kind of alarming to me. That's a pretty important question, especially for people getting ready to shop a book around. If the answer's yes, links to the agency and books they've sold/clients who use them would be appropriate for a more meaty response. If they're NOT legit, someone responding could state why (charging fees, no sales to publishers, a link to the page at Writer Beware cautioning writers away from them.)

It's an interesting concept. I don't know how moderation works for the site, but if it's possible, I'd suggest trying to find a mod who's knowledgeable about several aspects of the industry who can help pluck questions like that out of the trash and dust 'em off, and who, if PublishAmerica shows up looking for prey, or someone from Writers Literary Agency (both scams), they can kick their asses off the site.
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Post Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:18 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address ICQ Number
FattyFattyPorkFace



Joined: 10 Aug 2004
Posts: 6381
Location: Michigan
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Having enough people to contribute is the whole point of the Area51 process. You propose a site, define what is and isn't on topic, then get people to commit to making a it a success. The only way to mitigate your concern is to get people involved.
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Post Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:23 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
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