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Improvements and ideas: what would you like from your community?

Hi everyone, as some of you know, part of my role here at Jericho Writers is to make sure that we're providing a community platform that helps you on your writing journeys, inspires you and introduces you to fellow authors and new friends. The current community definitely has some limits (and some great functions) and I know there are some frustrations. I'm very aware of those but what I'd really love to know is - big picture - what would you love this community to do and to offer?

Don't worry about suggesting tweaks to what we already have, I mean sky's the limit, what would you love to see? 

I can't promise we can deliver it all(!) but I'd love to factor all of your hopes into my thinking and my plans. 

Thanks so much in advance! 

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Replies (50)
  • I would like an in depth look @ elevator pitch.
    The first 1-2 minutes of what you would say to an agent to sell your novel.

    I also have difficulty with some of the associated terms, eg. premise, logline etc ...

    They often seem interchangeable, and they can also mean different things to different people.


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    • Do you mean Townhouse or Jericho Writers as a whole? I'm loving everything JW is doing. As a big picture for JW, I'd really love more courses. The How-To-Write Course was the first thing I sort of got into when I joined JW so I'd love lots more like that. And the SFOW workshops were brilliant! 


      Then for Townhouse, big picture... The more cosier, the better. Imagine it like WhatsApp, there's the texting part, but then there are statuses where people can post memes and pics and stuff. Like, a few “chats” on Townhouse would never hurt anybody haha. 

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      • I meant Townhouse but this is great feedback on JW in general too so I'll pass it on! Thanks so much! 

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      • More interaction with tutors/the professionals on the forum in general. You and Harry do a bit, but it would be nice to see a wider group of you dip in to discussions sometimes.

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        • I find it difficult to navigate this site. I've yet to figure out how to initiate a discussion or inquiry. More interaction with tutors/the professionals on the forum in general. You and Harry do a bit, but it would be nice to see a wider group of you dip in to discussions sometimes.


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        • Wouldn't it be great to have a virtual weekly coffee morning/afternoon/evening with members and Jericho and even the odd invited guest? 

          Some kind of routine that encourages more interaction. Talking about anything around writing and reading.

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          • The monthly competitions used to be popular on the Word Cloud. (4-500 words, judge sets theme, judge gives a couple of lines comment on each entry, winner sets and judges next month's comp. Not sure we have quite enough of a community vibe yet for a member to start it off, but if a tutor/professional were prepared to run a comp (maybe not every month) it might generate more activity.

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            • This is great to read because competitions are on my list for the future incarnation... 

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              • Wow! That's gonna be some stiff competition 😀

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                • I used to love doing the word cloud comps too, Bella. Happy days.

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                • This is all really useful, thank you! 

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                  • I find Townhouse intimidating and difficult to use.  Forums & Groups are confusing as they can be the same thing but have different words.  Also, getting notifications anytime your friend has posted, liked, or voted for something is a bit much.  Maybe consolidate it into daily emails where you can set up a time and find out what's happening in the group. New topics & current active conversations?  Beyond townhouse... the regular Jericho site keeps booting me out. I can log in, navigate to something and it asks me to log in again and it will repeat until I figure out a different way of navigating so I can stop the cycle. I've worked on public websites before (business analyst) so happy to help at understanding requirements and figuring out what is needed rather than what is a nice to have.


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                    • Hi Brigette, thank you - I couldn't agree more on forums v groups, notifications and the lack of modules showcasing latest activity and breadth of conversation! 

                      Thank you for the offer as well but we're actually undergoing a process of planning for an improved site and it's very much about the essentials as well as the nice to haves. 

                      In the meantime, would you like me to forward your issue with the main site to our customer services? They might be able to help fix this. 

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                      • Sure! thanks.

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                      • Hi. I'm new so haven't had time to view all the content, but more of Rebecca Horsfall, please. Her 'Taming your reluctant protagonist' is brilliant.

                        First line/first paragraph 'competitions' are lots of fun.

                        Could be my fault (probably is) but once in 'Townhouse' navigation to the rest of the site content does not seem possible.

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                        • Hi Heather, Rebecca is amazing, isn't she! I'll pass this on :)

                          The Townhouse site is actually separate to the rest of the Jericho Writers website (which is also something we're hoping to change soon...) so to continue navigating around it, you would need to be on jerichowriters.com.

                          Hope that helps! 

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                          • Holly ,

                            All sounds great, once I get the hang of the How to navigate this I will catch up with all the interesting things that seem to be going on here. I am a bit confused between JW and Townhouse. Will get there eventually. 



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                          • Hi, i was thinking about Sophie Hannah's 'dream author's' and wondered if her life coaching concept could be brought to Jericho and the Townhouse community?  As a new writer, my belief system can affect my future desires for my writing and I think if you create a structure for this type of support most people would be interested in a club with a joining fee.   

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                            • Thank you, Holly.

                              While I'm here (it's not exactly on topic) but how about a 'Microsoft Word tips' article / video. Specifically 'tips' on how to use the Word functions that are most useful to writers.

                              I have learned much by viewing You tube videos, but nobody has gathered together all the best tools/tips for writers in one video. I had to wade through lots on calculators and so on, to find the really useful bits like 'how to get Word to read out loud' or 'how to move all your backstory into another document' (which makes it easier to interrogate as to whether it really needs to be there).

                              All the best.

                              Heather

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                              • Hi, I'm new to the community and I find it difficult to use the search: I don't get what I'm looking for (e.g. someone mentioned an article and I set to find it... to no avail). Maybe it's just my morning density (and lockdown adding its toll), or I need a course on Wake up before anything. Also I think my mail is too crowded with messages saying someone has just posted this and that (maybe a single summary per day would be better). As for the rest, thank you for the help you're providing in every area. 

                                Nice day to all of you out there, 

                                Pat

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                                • I think (and from the above I would concur) that some people do find posting writing for a critique quite intimidating. Whilst, 95% of the time the feedback is constructive and encouraging there are a few individuals whose feedback manner is quite brutal.

                                  I've been doing this a while and I have very thick skin in terms of receiving feedback but I can imagine that it puts people off posting their work - it makes me think twice - and also perhaps puts them off posting for a second time!

                                  I'm not sure if some kind of moderator could look at some of the feedback and perhaps make suggestions to certain individuals to perhaps ease back a little? Yes, I know out there in the big bad world of publishing criticism is much harsher but this is a friendly place and perhaps it isn't needed here for folk who are at the beginning of their writing journey?

                                  Just a thought...

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                                  • HI Rick, personally If I wanted someone to look at something I wasn't sure about, you'd be the first person I'd approach because that's what I need. I used to use a wonderful critique person who understood that she needed to be brutal to get through to my somewhat occasionally obtuse brain, but it's tough for some people, especially starting out. I see myself as a veteran and nothing anyone can say would be harder than what a publisher/agent can be.

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                                    • HI L - totally get that, I love the US for that reason - no holds barred over there - America is very like Yorkshire in that way!!

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                                      • Thanks Danny.

                                        As to not being harsher than a publisher/agent, that's only because I hold myself back. I once gave feedback on something - not here - that said: "There are things written in our earlier days that belong in an old folder, be it physical or digital. A folder that might be opened – might – in some distant future, when we are dead, and relatives want to pour through the traces of our past lives. Then, there are things that that should be culled, even from that folder. This is one of the latter."

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                                      • Hi Danny. I was nervous at first but I think that if you are not ready for honest feedback and constructive criticism then you don’t need to post anything. You can learn a lot from reading other people’s work. However, if you are serious about wanting to be published then at some point you have to face up to the fact that it is a really tough gig. Nobody on here wants to be negative. Their aim is to help you achieve your goals. Sometimes to achieve them you have to hear that your baby is not as beautiful as you thought. If people can give honest feedback on here then it helps to improve your work so that eventually hopefully it will be ready to be submitted and less likely to be rejected. I am at the stage of having it pointed out that some tweaks I made to my manuscript were just tweaks and I actually need to start again with a blank page. However I am not disheartened because I am learning so much all the time and know the finished result will be the better for it. I agree the sandwich approach works and I think Sarita’s ideas are really good too about the way to ask for specific feedback. Good luck with your writing.

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                                        • Kate, I agree with you. Without honest, constructive criticism a person will never improve. There's no need to take it personally and I feel we're lucky to have the opportunity to learn from others. I for one am very grateful that people have taken time out of their busy lives to help.

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                                          • Good point, Kate. Those not ready to share can read comments given to others - as you say, that in itself can be really helpful. Nothing like decent feedback to improve your writing - absolutely invaluable

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                                          • I also understand both sides. I can almost compare this to me preferring to talk to someone over the phone rather than texting, because words on a screen can sometimes be taken out of context. Therefore, when I critique I try to be as tactile as possible. 

                                            But...I consider myself as very much an amateur, so critiquing takes time. Essentially, the time the critiquee who has exposed their baby desreves. So I will be as honest as possible, postive and negative.

                                            With regards to me receiving feedback, because I'm an amateur and have a thirst for learning in all areas of life, I want to be hit with everything, and really look forward to it. The more the better. Only then can I produce my best work possible. I have actually left a forum because the feedback was 99% positive.

                                            The sandwich approach is generally favourable, but peronally, I'm inclined to question the person's honesty. I'd wonder if they're just dressing it up for the sake of the sandwich. I prefer Rick's salad approach. I don't like bread anyway. But everyone is different. It does take guts to put our work out there, but it also takes character to both accept and act on feedback, and take on board but chose not to use. I suppose it depends on how much the writer wants to improve or if they're just toying with ideas.

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                                            • I'll also add that similarly to Julie, I've paid for professional feedback on occassion, and come away thinking, I'm not entirely sure they know what they're talking about, maybe they're just trying to make a quick buck, let's go to Townhouse.

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                                              • I think Jericho could do worse than check out the form Scribophile make you fill out (tick the 'I understand' boxes) before you submit a piece for critique. It makes the person submitting think about the process, and appreciate the time given by those who respond.

                                                As far as the 'bread' goes: the 'nice' comments tell you something about the critiquer - giving you a layer of perspective.

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                                                • True that.

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                                                • About improvements, I’ve been part of several online forums over the years and I have to say this one is the least user friendly. I don’t like not knowing where the last new post on a thread is because it’s not the last post at the bottom of the thread. Also other forums I’ve used have more detailed editing functions with make critiques easier. Also one forum I used has a password protected section for critique so they don’t come up in google searches.

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                                                  • Agree - Critting is really tricky with the current restricted editing buttons. 

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                                                    • This is an unfortunate side effect (ok, more a full-frontal effect) of a platform that was never intended for use in this kind of forum.

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                                                      • I completely agree, L. And I promise we have some big changes planned! 

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                                                      • Hi. As mentioned above navigational issues make the site not particularly user-friendly and also the transition between the JW website and Townhouse is a little irritating. It feels like I'm being taken away from where I want to go. Overall I'd say the community is like a big novel with some brilliant set-pieces and intriguing characters but the structure lets it down in places. For that reason I tend to leave it unread...(mind you I put off reading Middlemarch for years: it looked too much like homework - blown away when I finally gave it the attention it deserved though. Maybe I need to apply myself a bit more here.)

                                                        I am also confused as to the link between the Ultimate Novel Writing Course (which I signed up for) and this community. Who is participating? I can't see a mention of it anywhere, even though on the welcome email I received there is a link inviting me to meet my fellow course members in this place. 

                                                        Everybody on here seems supportive though and the atmosphere is a welcoming one. That's the biggest takeaway so far. 

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                                                        • Hi Sam, 

                                                          I completely agree, having separate sign ins for Townhouse and the main JW website is not a great experience and it's one we're working to fix right now. It won't be instant, but it is coming. 

                                                          The community here is so supportive and all of you are brilliant, thank you for bearing with the wrinkles as we work to create a community platform you deserve. 

                                                          The Ultimate Novel Writing Course has a group on here - which you were invited to - and it's private and available only to participants on the course, which is why you can't see it on the main community. I hope that helps. 

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                                                        • I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this already...I find it a bit irritating that all the IT/general stuff is at the top of the forum list every time I go in. It means I have to skim down to where the 'real stuff' starts. I know it's just a minor point, but it would make the new/ongoing threads more evident.

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                                                          • Hi Sarita, yes you're right. I will see if I can reorder the forums myself. Although we will be making much more substantial changes soon, every little improvement helps! 

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                                                            • Hi Folks. A very interesting blog. I must be lucky because I don't have much trouble with the navigation. I would like to add a comment to early posts related to the subject of harsh critisism.  I've had a couple of kicks in the gut, but most of us here have thick hides. We wont last five minutes without them, so I say keep that coming,. BUT! With a kick should come some advice. That's why we are on this site, and I love it. Here's an example of what I mean. 'You won't get anywhere with cluttered dialogue. Focus more on that and your writing will be better.' We might read that, but what if we read this. 'Your dialogue seems clunky to me, and I think it is overdone and loses its impetus. Look at your dialogue, you will usually find that the last sentence you add is not needed in most cases. Keep it short and powerful, then repost and let's look at it.'

                                                              It's just a few more words. But it is educational and doesn't take the wind out of a newbie, like me. BETTER STILL. Cut and paste an example and show what you mean with an offering of your wisdom. That would be so fantastic.

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