Urbis for reviewing – Reviewed

topheadleft.gifRemember FictionPress? The site where authors post up their writing, and other authors get to comment on the various works put up?

I personally don’t like FictionPress. Or FanFiction.net, for that matter. You don’t get to choose the fonts and font sizes your fiction is presented in, nor decide the environment in which a reader interacts with your words. There you just post fiction and pray that others start taking an interest in what you write. No upward climb towards being published, though some may argue it is a good way to improve your writing.

Urbis, which is basically a polished spin on FictionPress’s idea, does seem to do a few things right. It feels like your typical Web 2.0 service – shiny, polished and well presented. And there is a focused approach to writing – a goals section makes sure you work towards something, while making it easy to socialise with those who are working towards the same goal.
The Be Published goal had 1005 items at the time this post was being written.

Urbis also has a credit system, used as a way to encourage reviews of other people’s work. The underlying concept is easy enough to understand: you earn credits by reviewing other people’s works, and you spend them by revealing reviews other people have written about yours. It’s quite a brilliant move, frankly speaking – it makes sure people don’t hog the duvet and selfishly stick to their own writing.

I have no idea if Urbis will prove itself worthy of the many writers out there, nor how they intend to make their money. A brief stay at their homepage will likely convince you of the vibrant community they’ve managed to gather – creative, opinionated people commenting, reviewing and putting out works for the rest to read. Every few seconds a new quote/poem/novel chapter comes out, or a review of the said quote/poem/novel chapter.

So I decided to take a look of some of the work produced. Most were amatuerish, none of what most of us expect from a novel off a bookshelf. I have yet to find anything worth shouting about … but then again I’ve only spent half an hour browsing through the gallery, which wasn’t very easy to browse, though it looked nice enough. It’s daunting, to say the least – there’s absolutely no guarantee of finding something worth my time there … or worth the time taken to find it in the first place. Urbis lacks what Amie Street seems to have overcome: easy to find gems, which motivate more and more people to search for yet other gems within the system.

Urbis has still a few kinks to work out – I’d have liked it if users could post images (I won’t go so far as to say music – but pictures cut it pretty fine for giving the writing some identity), and they should at least have a Popular or Editor Selected section. But in areas such as discussion Urbis gets a thumbs up – there’s nothing more inspiring than being reviewed or reviewing the collective works of like-minded people. Maybe I’ll just use my account for access to the community. I’ll wait and see.

For now, at least, I’d place my bet on serializing fiction on blogs. Urbis better prove me wrong.

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Category: Publishing · Writing Tools