A lot of people I know are fairly dismissive of Fictionpress, and I can understand why. After all, there is a lot of crap on the site. It can be daunting, going on there and reading something that has no grammar, where every word is spelt wrong and the plot is “OMG this is ME and this is a HAWT guy and WE’RE TOTALLY GONNA FALL IN LOVE!” Or coming across something that’s a rehashing of things already seen a thousand times before. But, the truth is, if you know where to look, there are some amazing stories on there. Stories that stand out as being original, well written, engaging and with characters more three-dimensional than half the people I had the ‘pleasure’ to meet while at Uni.
Plus, on top of all that, there’s some great people on there who are willing to sit and read your work, pointing out any flaws and mistakes you’ve missed. These reviews, and these people who are so willing to take the time to comb through a piece of work, have vastly improved my writing, as well as encouraging me to keep writing for personal reasons, as well as helping increase the quality of the work I completed at University. (Where I did Creative Writing. So, yeah, if I get a decent result, it’ll be in part thanks to the people at FP.)
I can understand why many good writers dislike the site. It’s very, very hard to get reviews at first, and much like Fanfiction.net, some of the best stories get overlooked, whereas some of the worst seem to get high reviews in a short amount of time. But then, digging deeper, you find amazing pieces which have a high number of reviews, detailed feedback and not just “amazing plz conts!” or whatever these crazy kids are saying nowadays.
I’ve learnt, via Fictionpress reviews, that when it comes to dialogue, speech tags need a lowercase and a comma, exclamation or question mark at the end, not a full stop, and that when addressing someone, a comma comes before ([“Hi, Mark,” she said,] rather than [“Hi Mark.” She said.]) For some reason, I’d never noticed or been taught this before, and now, it’s jammed into my head. It may sound small, but it makes a huge difference. I’ve also learnt my strengths (apparently, my dialogue is realistic. Yay!) and weaknesses (but I lack in description). It’s great – it gives me something to work on.
And, like I said, there are some amazing stories on Fictionpress, some writers whose work brings the same joy as reading a full-fledged, edited and published novel. I love reading – always have, and always will. Harry Potter when I was a kid, Anne Rice novels when I was a teenager, Ben Elton and Nick Hornby and, just recently, I devoured The Hunger Games like, well, a Capital citizen watching a bunch of kids kill each other, I guess. But while at University, the main reading I had was for essays or seminars, and except for travelling to and from Uni and home, I barely had time to get stuck into a good book. But I was always on my laptop, always on the internet, and managed to dip in and out of various Fictionpress stories. Now, among the authors and books mentioned above, I have some other favourites. I have stories that I keep a keen out for, authors who, when I get an e-mail telling me they’ve updated a story or added a new one, make me really excited. I see a whole new generation of writers waiting to be discovered, who, quite frankly, deserve success in writing so much more than some of the most famous, wealthy celebrities out there (whether these celebs be writers or not).
So, dismiss Fictionpress all you want, but in doing so, it discounts so much. Yeah, there’s rubbish you have to wade through, and, if you’re a writer yourself, you may struggle to get reviews (at first). But go to the forums; there are some great people there, many of who had a review-for-review policy. I suggest taking advantage of that, especially if you want to improve. Take their criticisms on board, listen to their advice and read their work.
It may just brighten your day.