Used to Share Student Writing

Figment is a social media website that allows users to share their writing with like-minded peers. It's tag line ‘write yourself in' emphasizes the sites focus on community and connection with others.

It was inspired by one of its founders' childhood dreams of writing. Jacob Lewis went on as an adult to become the managing editor of the The New Yorker, but spent much of his childhood writing Stephen King-esque fiction.

While he had envisioned Figment to be similar to Facebook, he is surprised at how popular it has become as a repository for the writing of its members.

"We really thought at first that it would be more of a social network site," Lewis said. "But it has been all about project creation. The amount of new content our users produce is amazing."

Figment connects its aspiring youth writers to professional writers and published authors who conduct online Q&A sessions, live chats and blogs. There is also a ‘Groups' function that teachers can use to set up online workshops for their students.

Meenoo Rami, a National Board certified English teacher in Philadelphia who hosts the teacher blog #engchat, said Figment is the "perfect platform" for her students.

"It's important for students to know that their work is viewed by more than just their teacher. For my students, the idea that a larger audience is being exposed to their work is important to them," Rami said. "This gives them an authentic reason to write."

While Figment has its success stories, such as Blake Nelson who received a book deal based on the work posted to the site, Lewis is down to earth about it and is keen that the site doesn't simply become a market for the most talented writers to display their wares and compete for deals.

Lewis said Figment should remain at its heart a place for teens to express themselves.

"Our mission is to not take amateur writers and make them pros," he said. "We don't want to set up a hierarchy. We just want these young writers to see how empowering it is to be able to share your ideas."

Figment was founded by Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear in 2010. It has more than 220,000 registered users and a library of more than 350,000 individual pieces encompassing a wide variety of genres, poetry, short stories and novellas. It runs regular competitions for its members.

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