One of my favorite resources is LitReactor. Straight up. Full stop.
I first came to it because a friend from my writing group told us about a writing event on the site. TeleportUs was a writing event. It challenged participants to write a science-fiction story featuring a dystopia or utopia, plausible technology, and a non-human character. The story had to be between 1,500 and 4,000 words. Anyone could participate.
I had never written science-fiction before, but I've read a lot of it. It seemed like it would be something fun to try. I wrote my entry and posted it. It was a fantastic experience. I got to read a lot of stories and provide feedback. My story was read and responded to. I learned a lot. I was also lucky enough to win a free book for commenting and my story got lucky enough to win a reading by a professional editor.
I got hooked.
There are many features on the site you can access for free with a basic membership. There are essays, discussion forums, and interesting posts about books, writing, and more.
I decided very quickly that I wanted access to everything and went for a paid workshop membership. That level allows me to read and respond to stories posted by other members. I can also post stories of my own. One thing that I really appreciate is that there is a point system. You get enough points to post one submission when you join. After that you have to earn it. You get points by helping other writers in the workshop. I'm sure it maintains balance.
I will confess that I haven't yet taken full advantage of the Workshop aspects of my membership. A lot of that is because I have been spending a lot of my time in the classes. (Classes cost extra and you don't have to be a workshop member to take them).
I've taken eight classes at LitReactor and I'm in my ninth right now. I think I qualify as a full-blown junkie. I've taken classes on specific elements of craft, on writing action, on writing horror, using improv techniques and archetypes, editing, and navigating the industry.
Now that I'm back at work I'm easing up. I do have my eye on one or two more, and I'll probably bite when they come back into rotation.
The classes vary in price and duration. They're taught by professionals. The class I'm in right now is taught by a master of horror and suspense writing: Jack Ketchum. So, yeah, you get some big names in there. But, honestly, that's not the main draw. It's the interaction with smart and talented people.
Every class I've taken has been great. There are some lecture notes and they are usually very helpful and interesting; I learn from them. The real heart of the class is the workshop and mentoring parts. You get peer reviews from very talented people and in most classes you get direct feedback from the instructors. That is addictive.
These people know their <insert clever vulgarity here> stuff.
I've come out of each of those classes with at least one story I feel good about revising and even submitting. I've come out of them a better writer. I've connected with other writers. It's pretty kickass.
The site seems very open to all sorts of writing. I really appreciate that spirit. LitReactor was founded by the people behind Chuck Palahniuk's website---and that might tell you something. There are a lot of genre people on the site. You find horror, suspense, noir, transgressive, bizarro, sci-fi, fantasy, YA, literary fiction, and just about everything else you can imagine on the site.
It feels like home to me. There's lots of weird.
It might not be everyone's cup of tea. And that's okay, you know?
There are lots of writing communities out there. Some are free. They will have different tones and styles. If working online is something you like to do, if you don't have a writing group in meatspace, or if you're like me, and you want the best of both worlds, then seeking one out could be worth it.
Apologies if this sounded like a sales pitch. It isn't meant to be. I promise. I don't work for them. I'm pretty sure that there really aren't a ton of people on the site who even know who I am. I tend to be a lurker in the community at large.
Writing can be a lonely activity. If you write in hopes of being read then contact and feedback is especially important. Not everyone is lucky enough to find a support system in real life.
Bottom line? Writers don't have to go solo if they don't want to. I figure there's a place out there for just about everyone.
To the google with ye! Explore. Have fun.
And, if you're curious, you can check out LitReactor.