Welcome to Novel Boot Camp & Workshop #1

Dear Boot Campers,

Welcome to Novel Boot Camp! If you joined us last year, welcome back! If this is your first year participating in Boot Camp, we’re glad you found us!

We’ll be discussing a lot of topics this month! Every post is based on the problems I see my clients facing. They’re the sorts of problems that come up over and over again, and they’re problems that can be hard to spot, hard to fix, and sometimes hard to understand intuitively.

The approach will be a bit of a whirlwind, but remember that the posts will remain up and available for your use after Boot Camp comes to a close. So if you miss a post or don’t have time for a homework assignment, don’t sweat it!

Novel Boot Camp is about challenging yourself to not just write your novel, but to analyze your own work. It’s about becoming better, stronger, and more efficient as a writer.

So let’s get rolling!

The Workshops

This year’s boot camp will feature four workshops. Two workshops will be focused on the first page, and two workshops will be focused on the query letter.

My biggest regret about Boot Camp 2014 was that I did not get to provide enough personalized feedback to participants. So the first two workshops (one for the opening page and one for the query letter) will not be peer review workshops. Instead, I will be providing insight and feedback myself.

The second two workshops will be peer reviews in which each writer’s submission will be given its own page with its own comment section for peer critiques.

Because this is a free course, I cannot predict how many writers will participate. This means that unfortunately I cannot guarantee everyone will have a chance to participate in every workshop. I will post submissions in the order they are received until time prohibits me from continuing. So submit early!

Additional rules will be posted at the time of each workshop so stay tuned!

Workshop #1: “I Stopped Reading When…” First Page Edition

The goal of this workshop is to demonstrate how quickly agents and editors (and even readers) make decisions about a novel. It will also demonstrate how writing doesn’t always come across the way the writer intended.

It’s easy to overlook our own mistakes, to believe our descriptions are clear, to think our jokes are funny and our concepts are unique. Seeing how your novel is perceived by others gives you the opportunity to correct misconceptions, mistakes, and confusion.

You’ve worked hard on your novel, now it’s time to take it for a test drive.

The Results

I will reveal my feedback on your submissions in multiple blog posts throughout Novel Boot Camp. This allows me to provide feedback on the largest number of submissions without attempting to post them all at once.

Each blog post will include a list of numbered excerpts from the submitted first pages. Your name and the title of the novel will not be included. Novels will be identified by genre only.

My feedback will include the text up to the point that I stopped reading along with a few brief comments about why I didn’t continue.

It will look something like this:

1. Thriller

“The night sky was heavy, and it pressed down on Jacob like a black cloud. The storm was building overhead as Jacob went running down the streets of the town.”

Opening with a description of the sky is cliché. No hook. Overuse of “ing” verbs.

2. Middle Grade

“Max, Mindy, and Mattie sat in class with smiles on their faces. They were so excited because it was the first day of school.”

Names are too similar, which will make the characters difficult to differentiate. No main character is identified. “First day of school” openings are cliché.

A poll will be included at the bottom of each post so you can vote for which opening you would have continued reading. If you can, please leave a comment explaining why in the comment section.

I hope to have the first post up later today!

Submission Form

Connect with Other Boot Campers!

Want to make friends? Need a shoulder to cry on? Got a question?


4 thoughts on “Welcome to Novel Boot Camp & Workshop #1

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