Figment for Imagination
Calling all aspiring teen writers. . . . Figment is a cool new website where teens can post their work and get feedback from others. The online community features writing from all genres, including poetry, fiction and even cell phone lit. Learn more here.
A Sea Change in Literature
In recent years, many cultural commentators have suggested that technology's increased prominence in teens lives has caused them to stop reading. Critics have charged that young people are too busy texting or surfing the Internet to have much interest in the written word.
But the widespread belief that tech-obsessed teens have stopped reading isn't backed up by research. Teens' reading habits haven't disappeared, but they have changed. Rather than reading exclusively books (which they are also enjoying), the YA set increasingly takes in information through alternative means - most notably electronic formats.
Figment is a new virtual community that shows that teens' writing habits are also changing. The website allows young people to share their work, comment on others' writing and vote for favorites. Features highlight the work of popular YA authors and forums allow users to dish on their recommended reads. And because we live in an era of social networking, there are of course opportunities to set up profiles and connect with other teen authors.
Harnessing Tech-Appeal for Literature's Benefit
Figment represents an effort to keep the literary arts alive among young people; it doesn't aim to do so, though, by simply offering the 'pick up a book' message of so many other teen reading initiatives. Instead, Figment provides an opportunity for teens to interact with literature on their terms. Rather than high-mindedness or stuffy notions of what literature 'should' be, the website encourages writing of all kinds.
From unpunctuated text message poems on loneliness to quick-lit novels about werewolves, content at Figment ranges from serious to sci-fi. This fact pleases site creators Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear, who wanted to provide a place where teens could express what they want how they want. In fact, the online venture was in part inspired by a trend among young Japanese women who started writing fiction on their cell phones.
Goodyear calls the cell phone novel the 'the first literary genre to emerge from the cellular age.' And Figment provides a look at other ways in which literature is likely to change as Millennials get older. Showcasing the authors of tomorrow, the site also represents an opportunity for publishers to scout young writing talent. It's likely only a matter of time before at least some of the site's users go from 'most followed' to 'best-selling author.'