I am preparing myself to set about the first chapter of the WIP, again. It’s all stretch and show; winkle out the details, get the focus right, present the hook, cut the back-story (done that), paint the MC with panache and don’t make her hateful, yet.

There are no real figures for how many times I’ve worked on this or changed it but it wasn’t until I joined the Litopia writing colony that I was able to see what was wrong and how to make it better.

Before you become a full member you spend your time reading and joining in forum threads to get the feel of the colony. There are wild and woolly conversations going on, and all from a writerly point of view. Other writers, published and unpublished, express their opinions and give advice; they confess their horror tales from interaction in the publishing world, and the successes. Questions are asked and answered, from experience and the atmosphere is warm, comfortable and inspiring.

It took me three months to arrive at the stage where I could apply for full membership but I was happily ensconced in the very friendly reception while I waited. There is no critiquing in this area; the second level of membership leads you into an area which includes the ability to see and critique other people’s work and they yours. In order to get to this stage you must submit a piece of work to Litopia so they can gauge your seriousness towards the craft of writing – so you must, obviously, be past the stage of being able to edit your own work and produce a credible and creative piece of writing.

The criteria have changed now and it only takes a month and a certain amount of forum posts to apply for the full membership – which is free. All levels of membership of the colony are FREE. I like that word.

Quite a few writing sites charge a rate of, sometimes, up to £35 a year in order to keep out trolls and flamers. I was a member of WriteWords for three years, who make that £35 charge, and I loved being there; I made a lot of valuable writer-friends who are still in my world, through Facebook and Litopia.

I’ve been a member of several other writing sites over the years but for the value of critiques, Litopia is the best. My work has improved so much in the six months I’ve been there. It’s my home base now.

There is another level but I’m not quite ready for that yet; this is where you can pitch to the Agent, Peter Cox. I don’t plan to pitch to any agent until I finish the book – and then I’ll want to research and discover which agents cover the material I’m writing. Roll on the day I can type THE END on the first novel to get there!


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