Novel Boot Camp: Workshop #1 Submissions

14577156699_e85ccc7396_oWelcome to the third annual Novel Boot Camp! I’m so excited to be back for another year of writing tips and workshops!

If you participated last year, welcome back to another year of Boot Camp! If this is your first time participating, thanks for joining us! Novel Boot Camp is a ton of fun and a great opportunity to get free feedback on your novel. If you don’t know what Novel Boot Camp is, you can read more about it here.

Because Monday is Independence Day, we won’t start delving into our first topic until Tuesday. Next week is all about protagonists with four video lessons on how to write stronger, better, and more realistic characters.

Today I’m opening up the submission form for the first workshop. For the next two weeks (starting Tuesday, July 5) I will be posting the results. Make sure to submit your opening in the form below and check back every day to see if your submission was chosen for a critique.

If you’d like to see the full schedule for Novel Boot Camp, you can check it out here.

Workshop #1: “I stopped reading when…”

ca_20150131_026Hooray for Workshop #1! This was my favorite workshop from the last two years of Novel Boot Camp so I’m very excited to bring it back this year.

Agents, editors, and readers make lightning fast decisions about what they want to read. This workshop is intended to simulate the querying experience for writers who are hoping to traditionally publish. For those planning to self-publish, this workshop helps demonstrate what readers might think of your novel excerpt when deciding if they want to buy your book.

Last year I worked through 100 novel openings during this workshop. This year I’m going to run this workshop for two weeks so that I can get through even more. My hope is that the critiques will help you to avoid mistakes that get submissions deleted by agents and that cause readers to put the book down (or click away from the webpage) without buying.

You will also have the opportunity to help your fellow writers by voting whether you would continue reading after the first page.

The Critiques

I will reveal my feedback on your submissions in multiple blog posts throughout the first two weeks of Novel Boot Camp. Each blog post will include 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.

You can read last year’s critiques here.

Results will be posted every weekday from Tuesday July 5th to Friday July 15.

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 until time prohibits me from continuing. Thanks for understanding!

Submit your first page below:


Comment Question: What do you think is the biggest problem with your first page?

Want to connect with other Novel Boot Camp Participants?


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74 thoughts on “Novel Boot Camp: Workshop #1 Submissions

  1. devindanell says:

    The problem that I continuously face when I come to write a book is that I can never finish it because I begin to hate it after I’ve done a few hundred words

  2. Jennifer F. Santucci says:

    Hi Ellen! Thank you so much for hosting Novel Boot Camp again! I’m really looking forward to the lessons and workshops. My beginning has been revised several times since I first submitted it last year. The feed back I received was really helpful. My beginning needed a setting and I hope it comes through in this sample. Thanks again, Ellen!

  3. Suzy Ince (@Sukeyroo) says:

    I don’t delve enough into inner monologue. I can expand on feelings, but that’s not my first instinct, it has to be pointed out where it’s needed. I can hear the pain, happiness and sorrow in my head and think I’m putting all that down, but I’m not.
    Ugh, I’ve rewritten this little ditty twice already. This is what I mean.
    I have to have the computer read it out loud to me, because sometimes my hubby isn’t willing to re-read it for the umpteenth time, so I can hear where I go wrong.

  4. Elaine Cox says:

    The biggest problem with my first page is, I think, the first paragraph. There is necessary info, but I’m afraid I’m slowing it down too much? Writing a great opening seems to me the hardest part of it all. Thanks for the offer to host this camp!

  5. Lockhart says:

    The first page to me is like constantly maneuvering a gorilla in a cage, but he won’t fit! so you keep getting another size cage to put him in, but he escapes because you forgot to lock it or he grew bigger in the meantime and you need another size cage! And the frustration is, once you do get him in the cage, it falls apart! That”s what I think of the first page! But I’ll keep trying!

  6. Tony Lee says:

    The problem with my first page, in my mind, is the clunkiness as compared with the scene in my head. The specifics seem to distract from the feel I would like to set in place.

  7. Noelia Gutierrez says:

    The first page is boring. I want to have a good exposition by giving background on character relationships and other things but I also want to hook the readers and make them excited to continue reading.

  8. Cherie Bombell says:

    Thank you for this opportunity. This is my first time and I’m excited to learn.
    I think my opening might be confusing to readers as I jump between present and past. Also, I’m possibly squeezing in too much information too quickly. I’ve rewritten the opening in first person (originally written in third) and I’m not sure how the rewrite will go – if it will be an improvement or not. In my head I’m telling the story in the protagonist’s words so thought worth experimenting.
    Anyone have thoughts, experience, suggestions about writing in first person?

  9. Shelby says:

    I don’t make it clear fast enough who was talking in the first paragraph. I should address it in the third paragraph after hearing Aubrey’s inner monologue.

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