As the internet explodes with forums, e-journals and writing blogs, it seems like a pretty exciting time to be young writer. Dana Goodyear, who writes for the New Yorker, realized this a couple of years ago, when she read her first keitai shosetsu, or Japanese cell-phone novel (copy-paste to read Dana’s article about it here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/22/081222fa_fact_goodyear). This new cyber-form has taken Japan’s literary scene by storm, enabling average people to write pop-sensations on their cell-phones, and transforming young mothers and college students into literary stars over night.

From the idea of Maho i-Land (Magic Island), a forum to post your keitai shosetsu chapter by chapter and receive responses from other site users, Dana and her friend, Jacob Lewis, created figment.com. Figment is an online community for writers of all ages, that specifically focuses on young adult fiction (YA). Once you sign up, you can begin posting your stories or poems, with cover photos and graphics, that will appear publicly on the site. You can “heart” stories that you like, read fun interviews with YA writers on the blog, enter “flash5″ contests where you write in response to given words, and ask for revision help in the forum. And aside from getting your own words down on paper…errr…screen? you can read and read and read. figment‘s library is expanding by the day, and even tells you how long it will take you to read each story. Some are as short as half a minute!

It looks like both amateur and published writers are catching on. Local and much-loved YA fiction writer Blake Nelson is so jazzed about figment and the idea of making his writing accessible to mobile young people, that he decided to serialize (publish in small chunks) his novel Dream School, the sequel to his celebrated coming-of-age story, Girl, on figment‘s blog. A chapter of the book is released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Born in summer 2010, we could say figment is just now entering its own adolescence. The site’s creators are excited about letting figment mold itself into whatever its users want, which means that if you join now, and begin writing, responding, and becoming part of this community, you can have a hand in its growth.

Despite my own fear of the virtual wonderland banishing real-life page-flipping, creations like figment make me much less nervous. In fact, its the coolest thing I’ve heard of in days, and I think I’ll make an account right now!

-Kelly (WITS Intern)