As writers, we have all heard the advice, “Practice your craft. Build your platform. Share your work with a critique group. Find beta readers.” But how do we do that? Where do we turn for help? The folks at Story Dam are answering those questions and more with their online writers group, launched at the beginning of this month. I interviewed Story Dam’s founders, Brandon Duncan and his wife Brandi, to learn exactly what Story Dam is all about.
Welcome, Brandon! Good to have you join me at the Chipper Muse for my first official interview post. Why don’t you share a little bit about what led you to start Story Dam?
Absolutely, Michele, and thank you for this opportunity! Two years ago, I decided to act on my desire to be an author. I wrote when I could and tried to learn about the process. I even tried starting a forum to connect with other writers (which failed rather miserably). I decided to blog instead, which was great for my writing!
Later, I was invited to join an online writing group, and I jumped at the chance to participate. After a while, though, I felt I needed to move on; I think the biggest reason being I started to receive less critiques on my work. I knew I needed the extra practice, but without feedback, I simply didn’t know if I was getting better or worse. The problem was, after leaving the group, I no longer wrote as much. I didn’t have timelines to keep me honest, but I also missed the community aspect of being in a group. My wife, Brandi, also expressed a desire to write, but she couldn’t find a group she liked; so we started our own!
What are you hoping to accomplish with Story Dam?
We want to create a positive experience for writers by giving them a place where they can learn, talk, improve, and feel comfortable. We do not believe that the competition in the writing industry is so great that you cannot help others. Just as our tagline states, everyone has a story. We want to help people become comfortable sharing those stories and accomplish their goals—whether those are simple creative release, education, or getting their work published. Our whole structure is built on that foundation of helping other writers in a community setting. We are working hard to make sure they love their community.
Do you have any partners helping with Story Dam?
We do not; however, we do offer ways for our community to be more involved in Story Dam operations. Joining the VIP list (or subscribing) puts you on an email list through which we discuss new features, updates, and potential new concepts on a weekly basis.
We also have a volunteer group called the “community watch.” This group acts on our behalf as site moderators and are our eyes and ears on the street. If community members are interested in being a part of the community watch, all they have to do is email us. The bottom line is, this is our community. We should all have a say in how it runs.
What will writers get by participating?
We have designed Story Dam to suit writers at every skill level, so everyone can participate. Having a wide range of experiences and skills brought to the table will help make the community credible, pleasing, and meaningful.
To foster networking and friendship building, our community hosts four different link-ups throughout the month. We use a “linky tool” that allows us to quickly add a picture link that others click, taking them to the writer’s work. From there, they read, comment, or provide constructive criticism for that writer when appropriate. Two of these link-ups are based on writing prompts we provide. The other two are for sharing other interests or act as “meet and greets” for our members to get to know each other.
Story Dam also provides educational materials! We’ll have weekly original or republished posts from other sites that cover writing and publishing, social media, or various other topics that a community of writers would be interested in.
And finally, traditionally published and/or represented authors have the option of conducting interviews with us that are structured to allow people to connect with them on a more personal level. We publish the interview transcripts as a monthly feature; and we ensure that our authors stop in during their feature month to answer your questions and comments.
There are other online writing groups out there. So tell me… What makes Story Dam unique?
As I learned about various online writing groups, I realized that each had qualities people liked, but none pulled all of those traits together. So, that’s what we did with Story Dam—we brought everything under one roof, so to speak.
Everything about our community has been researched and designed to provide a tangible benefit to our participants. From our prompts, which conform to a stringent creative standard, to the site’s framework, we have kept our community’s best interests in mind every step of the way.
Plus, we’re fun people and we love to help others. That’s always a bonus.
Agreed! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
There’s tons more, but you have to visit the site! We welcome everyone, so please stop by and see if Story Dam fits your writing needs. We’d love to have you!
Well, there you have it, everyone! The scoop on Story Dam. Check it out online at www.storydam.com. I’ll be there waiting for you! And stop by Brandon’s blog too, found at www.brandontheduncan.com. I think you’ll enjoy what he and Brandi have to share with you.
And when you check out Story Dam, visit here and share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you!
Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.