Novel Boot Camp – Workshop #4: Ask the Editor


Week four of Novel Boot Camp is upon us! It’s going faster than I ever expected. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been great fun. And of course, it has sparked a lot of questions from all of you wonderful participants.

So this week I want to give everyone the opportunity to ask me your most burning questions! Since there’s no way I can answer a couple hundred questions this week, I am not going to be responding in this workshop. Instead, I will be compiling the questions that I feel will best serve the Novel Boot Camp community, and I will post the answers to these questions in a future blog post.

When will the post go live? This depends a bit on how many questions are asked, the types of questions asked, and how easy it is to pick the best ones to answer. I may use the questions to write full lectures or I may compile them into several blog posts to go up after Boot Camp.

The Rules

Please follow these rules when posting your questions:

  • Each writer may post up to two original questions.
  • You may request a lecture or blog post addressing an issue or aspect of writing or editing if you prefer.
  • If you see that someone has already posted your question, please reply to their comment with “me too,” “ditto,” or an explanation of why you too are interested in the answer. Please try your best not to start a new comment thread for a question that has already been asked.
  • Please do not answer the questions in the comments. This will prevent things from getting cluttered and will also protect writers from getting potentially inaccurate advice.
  • Questions may be directly related to your book, but please do not post any excerpts.
  • Questions may be general in nature and not directly related to your novel.
  • Please keep questions related to writing, editing, or publishing.
  • All questions should be posted in the comments below.
  • Please post your questions before July 27th.

Unless there is a crazy huge amount of questions, I would like to answer all of them eventually. This will most likely not be possible during Novel Boot Camp, so be sure to follow the blog in case I answer your question after camp is over.

Connect with Other Novel Boot Camp Participants

Need a writing friend? Got a question? Need a shoulder to cry on? We’re there for you!

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I will be answering writing and editing questions on our Twitter hashtag as time allows. Due to the insane volume of emails I’m receiving, I cannot provide free advice or assistance via email. Thank you!

What is Novel Boot Camp?

Novel Boot Camp is a free online novel writing course focused on identifying and correcting problems in your novel. Learn more about Novel Boot Camp and find past (and future) posts here.

51 thoughts on “Novel Boot Camp – Workshop #4: Ask the Editor

  1. Julie Griffith says:

    What’s your advice on handling critiques? Opinions can be so varied. I think it was Stephen King who said (I’m paraphrasing here) if a couple of readers give contradictory advice, they cancel each other out, but if several people say the same thing, then it’s probably best to listen. Also, is it best to have readers in your target audience beta read for you, or writers who know something about the mechanics of writing? Or both?

  2. Kelli Uhrich says:

    Hi Ellen,
    Do you have any tips for writing in alternating POV? How do you make each character’s voice unique without going to extremes. I’m writing from the POV of someone who should be really intelligent, so I’ve tried modeling his voice loosely from the writings of scientists (like Stephen Hawking). They use a lot of semi-colons and dashes to connect one thought to another, and they love the word “spurious” for some reason. However, I’ve received a lot of feedback that my sentences are too long. I was planning on using this as a voice trait for when the alternating POV came into play (making his sentences longer, hers shorter), but if longer sentences are a problem, what other tricks can I use?

    • English Tim says:

      Me too! Could you also tell us any rules and limits for multiple protagonist/antagonist combinations and how to avoid potential pitfalls? Please be as specific as you like. Thank you!

  3. Rae says:

    Hi Ellen – my question is about Agents and International Representation. I have written a distinctly British book, in the style of Helen Fielding and Sophie Kinsella. It is Bridget Jones meets James Bond for the music streaming generation. My thought was that I should only seek British agents instead of American. I’ve been afraid a US agent might suggest changing MI5 to the CIA etc.

  4. Rae says:

    Second question – Query letters. Can you give some examples of how we can say why we are seeking representation with xyz agency. I have a list of top ten agents and would like to know how I need to change up why I would seek representation with Agency A or Agency B.

  5. suewritestoo says:

    I’ve written a women’s fiction novel and now a YA realistic fiction novel and now I want to try my hand at MG historical fiction. I heard somewhere that you should stick with one genre over multiple books to develop your craft in that genre. What do you think about switching genres?

  6. Sherry says:

    Do you have suggestions as to how a writer should go about editing the draft of their novel? Editing is done up close and it is easy to spend a lot of time editing each word and sentence choice. But a writer needs to “see” the novel as a whole, like a painting where you can step back and see how all the elements work together. How should a writer approach editing all the complex layers of a novel?

  7. Erica says:

    Hi Ellen,

    This question is about spelling/language. If I am writing a book set in the UK (I’m British) but the largest readership is likely to be in the USA, should I use American spelling throughout the book, except maybe in speech? I’d still use British terminology (e.g. trousers, not pants!) but I’d use American English e.g. ‘recognize’ not ‘recognise’. Does it matter, or does it ‘depend’ on the book/genre/voice of the book and what sounds authentic?

    A blog/lecture would be useful!

    Thanks so much for this boot camp, it’s helped more than you know!


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