Professional Editor Critiques 225 Unpublished Novel Openings

Another Novel Boot Camp comes to a close! Thanks so much for everyone who participated, donated, shared my videos, and left comments of support and enthusiasm. I hope you feel like you walked away a stronger writer.

I did my best to get through as many novel openings as possible (with my sanity still intact). If your novel opening didn’t receive a critique, I’m sincerely sorry. I will do my best to post another set of critiques in the near future. 

The 225 critiques are listed below. I broke them up into categories for easier reading because there are a lot of them! The total word count of all the excerpts and critiques is 60,000 words! Whether you received a critique or not, I hope you enjoy reading the excerpts and my feedback and that you take away some valuable tips and tricks to make your novel opening shine.

Middle Grade (all genres)

Young Adult Fantasy

Young Adult Science Fiction

Young Adult Mystery, Thriller, Horror

Young Adult Mainstream, Literary, Historical, Comedy, Romance

Adult Fantasy

Adult Science Fiction

Adult Mystery, Thriller, Horror

Adult Mainstream, Literary, Historical, Comedy, Romance

A lot of you have emailed or commented asking me to continue making videos, so I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I have lots of videos planned, but I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get them filmed, edited, and uploaded. I’m working towards finding a way to make consistently posting videos feasible (both financially and with my schedule).

I sincerely hope you all enjoyed Novel Boot Camp as much as I did! Toby and I are going to rest up before it’s time to get ready for next year!

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19 thoughts on “Professional Editor Critiques 225 Unpublished Novel Openings

  1. flintsaunders says:

    Wow! What an amazing effort you have gone to for everyone! Thank you so much Ellen! Sounds like you had the biggest work out this boot camp. Can’t wait to read through them all. And if it helps, my writing is certainly better for having watched you videos and taken your advice. Hopefully I will soon have my work to a level to pay you for mentoring. Many thanks for you time.

  2. Mikahla says:

    I think that we can all say that it’s incredible that you do this, and we’re all very grateful that you do! I very much appreciate the critique I have received and plan to connect with you further once I have the money. Thank you!

  3. A. Connor Parr says:

    You have put a phenomenal amount of effort into this Novel Boot Camp, Mrs. Brock. God bless you for all that you have done for us! You have the patience of a saint and the tenacity of a seasoned warrior!

  4. Deans says:

    Yay! Thank you for critiquing my submission! I’ve been a fan of your videos and blog for quite some time now, however, this is the first time I’ve participated by submitting for critique. I really appreciate the criticism and advice because now I can see an area in which I can improve my writing that I didn’t notice before. Everyone I show my work to (friends, family and other writers) only gives positive praise with no critical feedback, despite asking for it. It makes me happy but I know they’re just being nice; I know my work isn’t perfect, and I only want to get better. It’s great to have an unbiased critical, yet very constructive, look at a sample of my writing by someone who knows what they’re talking about. Thank you Ellen! I look forward to next year’s Boot Camp! I’m also saving up so I can hire you one day!

  5. djtfontana says:

    Thank you, Ellen! I was so pleased to have had my first page excerpt selected for review and so grateful for your detailed and helpful critque. The points you mentioned are areas that I can now use going forward in the second draft of my book that I’m working on now. This first page reads so much better after incorporating your changes. I’ve followed your videos for a couple of years, and appreciate your talent and the fact you share it with all of us so generously and graciously. Thank you.

  6. Aartcritique says:

    I’m honored that you chose my submission. When I go back to edit it for the final draft, I’ll have to keep your suggestions in mind.

    However, as a side note, when you mentioned in the critique that the passage seemed more like a story for middle graders, I chuckled. It might be a story about talking animals, but it is most certainly not a book for anyone under the age of 12. There are several characters with (researched) mental disorders, two separate suicide attempts by a major side character, and graphic descriptions of panic attacks, sensory overloads, mutilation, and death. Not the kind of story a ten-year-old should read before bed. I’ll try to set a darker tone with the first chapter to better convey this.

    Thank you so much for using your valuable time to host this event. I’ve learned a lot through watching your videos, and hope to attend Novel Boot Camp again next year.

  7. Roe says:

    I was so happy to see that my page was one of the ones chosen. 🙂 Thank you so much for the feedback! I really appreciate it.

  8. Matt says:

    Thanks, Ellen. I am very grateful for the critique. It’s given me much to think about.

    Thanks for pointing out that the protagonist waking up is quite common; I honestly didn’t consider commonality in other novels when I wrote it. I only opened with it because I thought it suited the revelation that the character has amnesia. It’s given me something to think about.

    As for the “Are you alright” part; you’re not the first to point out that it sounds confusing. The idea was that the PoV character thinks he’s remembering someone saying it, when in fact someone is saying it to him at that very moment. He realizes the truth in a later part of my submission. Any suggestions for how to remove the confusion, or is this just a bad idea?

    Did the revelation of amnesia and the explanation of the “Are you alright” statement later on in my submission work where they were? Or should that be adjusted as well?

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