Workshop #3: Peer Critiques – First Page Edition


Welcome to the third week of Novel Boot Camp! This week we will be working on peer critiques. The complete list of novel openings is at the end of this post, but before we get started I want to offer a few pointers.

How To Be a Great Critique Partner

Here are my (hopefully) helpful hints on giving critiques:

  • Being a great critique partner is about balancing respect and honesty. Respect does not mean complimenting elements of the story that aren’t working. Honesty doesn’t mean being unnecessarily harsh or cruel.
  • Differentiate between opinion and objective truth. Make sure to clarify if you feel something is objectively wrong (such as not fitting the genre or age group) or if you just don’t like it personally.
  • Stop reading whenever you lose interest and explain why. Sometimes writers hesitate to offer feedback because they feel required to read the full excerpt. This isn’t so! It’s okay to stop reading if you grow bored or don’t have time to finish. You can still leave feedback!
  • If you’re not sure why something isn’t working, say so! Don’t feel that you have to give a reason for your opinion. It’s okay to say, “This isn’t working for me but I’m not sure why.”

Here is my advice on receiving critiques:

  • Don’t argue with a critique. Getting a bad critique that you disagree with is good practice for the inevitable negative reviews that will pop up throughout your writing career. Fighting to defend your work is not constructive and the outcome is often more embarrassing than the negative critique.
  • Thank the writers who take the time to provide feedback. They are offering you a free service and deserve a “thank you” for the effort!
  • Remember that the goal of critiques is to grow and improve as a writer. It will probably sting when you get a harsh critique, but a pat on the back is pointless. You want someone who will pick your work apart. That’s how you get better!

Workshop #3

Each novel opening has been pasted on its own page with its own comments section. Please leave your comments in the individual comments sections rather than on this page.

Feel free to share your opening page on Twitter, Facebook, etc. The more writers offering critiques the merrier! You do not have to be a Boot Camp participant to offer critiques.

Complete List of Novel Openings

Please choose at least 5 openings to critique. Thanks!


The Silence of the Bells

Pride & Destiny (fan fiction)

Damien Discovered

The Fall of Arkanar

The Magistry of Dreams


Seven Deadly Swords


The Steam Broomstick

The Paeonian

Young Adult

(Fantasy) Crow Jane

(Romance) To the Steadfast

(Fantasy) Andra of the Aki

(Thriller) Untitled

(Fantasy) Untitled

(Fantasy) Draidan’s Mountain

(Fantasy) Cane

(Fantasy) Elspeth Rising

(Mystery) Untitled

(Fantasy) Those Who Were

(Fantasy) From Earth to Neptune and Back

(Fantasy) Aja

(Fantasy) Untitled


Playing at Love

Man Wanted

Mirrors I – Radiance


The Lumberjack

Science Fiction

The Stars Did Wander Darkling


Hope Beyond the Horizon

The God Gene

Of Life and Death


Flying Solo

The Cure

Black Road

Charlotte’s Shadow

Visions of Red


The Mediocre Life of a Champion Cheat


Shepherd Moon

Across the Dark Distances

That Which is Left is Lost

Two Years Ago, Today

Middle Grade

(Fantasy) The Lil Gods and the Rise of the Giants

(Mystery) SKIP School

(SciFi) Scarlett Whisp and the Voice of the Void

(Mainstream) Lion Girl

(Historical) Resolution


Haunted Visions

A Killing Knish

View to Murder


Thanks to everyone who offers critiques!

This post is part of Novel Boot Camp. If you don’t know what that is, click here.

14 thoughts on “Workshop #3: Peer Critiques – First Page Edition

  1. Julie Griffith says:

    Thanks for organizing them by genre, Ellen. There are some genres I never read and therefore would not feel qualified to critique, so this makes sorting out which ones to focus on a lot easier. The new format of having a separate page for each opening was a great idea, too! I have a day off tomorrow and will get right on reading at least the required five, and hopefully more, after my morning coffee. 🙂

  2. chickinwhite says:

    WOW! This is quite a list! Thank you, Ellen, that you´re offering this chance to us. I´m looking forward to give at least half of the stories a try. I´m sure that´s gonna be a lesson in many different ways…
    Great job!

  3. Aleksandar Zaykov says:

    Hi Ellen,
    I inadvertantly submitted my beginning – “The Oaeonian” – under Mainstream when it should be in Historical. Will it be possible to move it at that stage? Really sorry for the confusion.
    Thanks, Alex Zaykov

  4. Stephanie K. says:

    What if no one chooses a particular story? For example, the ones that are untitled. Once five people have chosen a story does the select option close for that one?

  5. Jennifer Eller-Kirkham says:

    I’m looking for pieces that have no or few critiques – hopefully everyone will do the same so that everyone gets some feedback.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s