#NovelBootCamp – Free Online Writing Workshop in July!

Attention aspiring novelists, get your manuscripts (and your coffee!) ready for Novel Boot Camp! It’s a brand new writing course and workshop that will be offered for FREE throughout the month of July.

There will be lessons/lectures and a homework assignment every weekday. There will also be workshops where your fellow boot-campers and I will help polish your prose to perfection.

Unlike other online writing events, Novel Boot Camp focuses not on the writing process, but on editing a novel you have already written. It’s not about word counts or brainstorming, it’s about figuring out what’s NOT working with your novel so that you can make it stronger and more appealing to agents, publishers, and readers.

You don’t have to have a full novel to participate (though most of a first draft is ideal), and you do not have to participate in every assignment or workshop. This commitment is as big or as small as you want it to be.

The Schedule

June 23rd: A special “meet and greet” blog will be posted where you can use the comments to pick your friends, allies, and critique partners – the people who will help you through Novel Boot Camp madness!

June 30th: The Kickoff Party, which will include the start of our first workshop!

Workshop 1: The Genre Guessing Game (details to come). Prize: A free 1,000 word edit and critique!

First Week of July: The Beginning — Lessons will focus on what makes a beginning great, how to introduce your main character, and much more!

Workshop 2: First paragraph critique session. Prize: A free 1,000 word edit and critique!

Second Week of July: Conflict — It’s what makes the novel go round! Learn how to make it interesting, satisfying, and exciting.

Workshop 3: TBA – Suggestions/ideas in the comments would be welcome!

Third Week of July: The Middle – Learn what makes a middle great and how to avoid the dreaded “saggy middle.”

Workshop 4: TBA – Suggestions/ideas in the comments would be welcome!

Fourth Week of July: Nuts and Bolts – Lessons focus on replacing weak words with strong ones and learning when to tell and when to show.

Workshop 5: Query Letter Critique. Prize: A free query letter edit and critique.

Fifth Week of July: The Ending – Explore what makes an ending great and how to best tie up your story.

August 1st: Wrap Party/Closing Ceremony.

Workshop Info: The workshops will be posted on Sunday or Monday of each week and will last the entire week to give everyone a chance to participate. I will edit/critique/participate as much as possible, but I cannot possibly respond to every single comment. The goal of the workshops is to facilitate a fun and supportive learning environment for writers to critique each other.

**I am still looking for a couple more workshop ideas! If you have any ideas, please post in the comments! The workshops must be able to be performed in the comments section of this blog.

Sign Up

There is no official sign up for Novel Boot Camp. You can be notified of the lectures and workshops by following me on Twitter, following the blog, or signing up to the mailing list.

Spread the Word!

Please help me spread the word about Novel Boot Camp to all the writers who could benefit! Share this blog post wherever you can: Facebook, Twitter (#NovelBootCamp), Reddit, StumbleUpon, and beyond! My goal is to help as many writers as possible get closer to their publishing dreams.

 About the Organizer

I (Ellen Brock) am a freelance novel editor and writing coach. I work with aspiring writers as well as traditionally and self-published authors. I offer a variety of editing services as well as mentoring/coaching. When not editing (which is rare), I enjoy geocaching, reading, and watching movies.

73 thoughts on “#NovelBootCamp – Free Online Writing Workshop in July!

  1. amy says:

    Hi, I’m looking forward to this course! I’m seeking a first-pages crit partner (I’m always seeking writing friends!) I’m more or less ready to submit, so want to polish the bejeezus out of my first bit. I need someone willing to tear it apart with vicious glee. Anyone else in the same boat?

    I write YA sci-fi, but I’m happy to trade with anyone happy to trade with me!

  2. Lana Studley (@song4lana) says:

    Thank you for the #NovelBootCamp Ellen, what a great idea.

    I would love to get some thoughts, tips about what makes a good ending in the book. You know, the final showdown between a Main Character and a villain/dragon/bully and such. The most glorious moment where a Main Character overcomes whatever was holding him/her back.
    We can deconstruct some book endings. We can look at some example of books starting strong but failing to deliver at the end, or maybe there are cases of an opposite.

    What do you think?

  3. Penumbra says:

    Thanks! I beta more than write, so I wouldn’t mind cheering and betaing if any one needs help that way 🙂

  4. amy says:

    Just thought of another potential topic for one of your weeks: scene structure. Goal/Conflict/Disaster…or some variant: what do you recommend? Maybe with examples?

  5. Linda Vernon says:

    I love your videos and I just heard about your novel bootcamp. I’ve got my novel outlined and have just begun to write it. Since I have nothing to edit as yet, I’ll basically be tagging along for the ride but I’m sure there is lots and lots I can learn from it!! 😀

  6. Heather says:

    Hi… Um, I’ve only got a basic plot outline and most of four chapters, so I’m nowhere near the Revise and Edit stage. Is it still a good idea to tag along with the workshops?

    Also, I think a section on how to write a very cool, strong,main character would really help lots of authors, myself included.
    Most of the time, I read a book and find myself drawn more towards the “second in command” characters. The main one, the one the book’s view is from, is always kind of ‘meh’. Not interesting. Maybe even kind of whiny.
    I can tell my Main is heading in that direction, and it’s driving me insane.
    My Seconds are great. They’re full of all kinds of awesome character traits. My Main? Nope. I’m almost four chapters in, and the only things the reader knows about her is that she’s female, owns a cellphone, and has a sister. Also, magic.
    Problem is, I don’t want to bog the beginning down with the Vivian describing her self, and the book is only from her viewpoint. On the other hand, the beginning might be weak anyway because the reader has no idea what the main character is like, her age, or even how she looks.

    That’s probably enough of whining, I will stop now.

    Still though, help?

    • Ellen_Brock says:

      Definitely tag along at boot camp! You are guaranteed to learn something!

      To answer your question, it often happens that secondary characters are stronger than main characters because the secondary characters are observed and commented on by the main character, but the main character is observed by no one (assuming you have one POV). You can turn this around by doing some writing exercises where other characters watch, think about, or comment on the main character. This gives you an outside perspective and should hopefully reveal some interesting details and character traits.

      Hope this helps!

      • Heather says:

        Hi Ellen.
        Thanks for the quick feedback! I will have to try your suggestion.
        The main problem I’m having with Vivian is that she was actually put in the story so that one of my Seconds wouldn’t have to become the main character, thus saving them from contracting BMCS. (Boring Main Character Syndrome). However, I started to rather like Vivian, and she actually became very important to the plot. I’m now trying to save her from her sacrificial BM status. Sigh.
        With luck, I will get three cool characters from this, instead of the original two.

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