Website Review: SFWA

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Website Review: SFWA

Reviewed By

Lazette Gifford

Copyright © 2001, 2011, Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved



Since storytelling began, writers have searched for ways to better express their imaginations and to reach the widest audiences. Today, help with those problems can be found in a medium that is more substantial, but nearly as ephemeral, as the wind. It's the World Wide Web. People who are serious about publication often spend considerable time looking for material on how to properly write, format and submit material. The Web has a plethora of sites containing pertinent information, but how reliable is the material once you find it?


Consider the Source

While “considering the source” is not always the best way to judge material on the web, one site that undoubtedly can be trusted is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) page. You may have thought SFWA is an organization representing only published writers; however has articles aimed at beginners, the newly published, and the seasoned professional. You do not have to be a member of SFWA to access most of this information. The articles on these pages cover the issues of writing and publishing, with essays ranging from common mistakes in grammar and point of view, to manuscript preparation and finding an agent.


Covering “The Craft” and “The Business”

Writing is an art, and for those who wish to be published, it is also a business. The SFWA site acknowledges the importance of both aspects. From the splash page, the first link dealing with the craft leads to a nexus of fifty separate links. You will even find (under External Links to More Articles About Writing) Forward Motion Writer's Community. These links in craft are divided into 'The Basics, Intermediate, and Advanced."

Under the business section there is information on all kinds of contracts, including electronic rights. Learning to recognize a good contract and to know what clauses to avoid can save a new writer trouble over rights.

SFWA also has an important 'Writer Beware' section that deals with scams upcoming writers might face.


Information from Professionals

Browsing through the files on the SFWA site, you can take lessons from the masters of the SF and fantasy genre. The articles found on this single web site will bring you the earned wisdom of professionals such as C.J. Cherryh, Poul Anderson and Elizabeth Moon, each taking the time to help prospective writers improve their stories. There is even an article called "Writing SF for Kids" by Justin Stanchfield, the Young Adult and Children's Moderator at the Forward Motion Writer's Community.


Need some pointers on the basics? Beginners can choose essays from seasoned writers Melisa Michaels, Roger MacBride Allen, and many others. These articles don’t just explain, they show the reader examples of what to avoid when writing. Other articles reach beyond the basics to give tips on plot development, character creation and choices in Points of view, and many other issues of style.


Knowledge Base

There are millions of words posted on the art of writing on the World Wide Web. Every search engine will bring up numerous entries for any query about writing. The knowledge base available from SFWA makes  a natural launching pad for those writers who search the web for the keys to excellence in writing.