How to Enhance Scenes with Backstory

Writers are often advised to use as little backstory as possible, but sometimes nonessential backstory can actually enhance a scene. Backstory can convey the novel’s themes, clarify the character’s feelings, or give a better sense of the character’s current actions.

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youtube twitterWriters are often advised to use as little backstory as possible, but sometimes nonessential backstory can actually enhance a scene. Backstory can convey the novel’s themes, clarify the character’s feelings, or give a better sense of the character’s current actions.

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Novel Boot Camp: First Page Critique Workshop

Riverdale Public Library Logo(1)Take your first page for a test drive in this free workshop!

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.

Want to know what to expect from the critiques? Check out last year’s workshop.

Please read all directions before submitting:

  • Submissions open Monday (August 6) and close Friday (August 24).
  • The critiques will be posted the final week of Novel Boot Camp (August 27-31).
  • The critique will be posted publicly on this blog.
  • Your name and the title of the novel will not be included in your critique. Novels will be identified by genre only.
  • I will accept up to 500 words, but in the interest of critiquing as many writers as possible I will only critique as far as I feel is necessary to provide useful feedback (see last year’s workshop to get a sense of the format, though I might shake things up a bit).
  • My hope is that you will be able to apply the information from the first week of videos (which are all about novel openings!) prior to submitting.
  • Submissions will be critiqued in the order they are received.
  • Due to time constraints and the number of submissions, I cannot update your first page after you submit it.
  • I also (sadly!) can’t guarantee that every submission will receive a critique because I cannot predict how many writers will participate.

Thanks for understanding!

***Please include spaces between paragraphs as no other formatting will be preserved after you submit the form. Thanks!***

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How to Write a Prologue that Works

Prologues are notoriously hated by agents and editors, and in previous videos and blog posts I’ve advised against using them, but writers often still feel that a prologue is a good choice for their novel.

So today I want to go over a few published prologues to talk about why they work and how you can write a strong prologue for your own novel.

Don’t forget to polish your opening scenes. The submission form for the critique workshop will be open starting Monday!

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Two Ways to Structure Your Novel’s Opening

I get asked a lot of questions about novel openings: Where should I start my novel? Should the inciting incident be on the first page? How can I keep the reader engaged if the inciting incident doesn’t happen for several scenes? Can a later inciting incident be a good thing?

 

In this video, I use published novels to demonstrate different ways you can structure your novel’s opening.

 

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Novel Boot Camp 2018: Update & Schedule

Riverdale Public Library Logo(1)Need help with your novel? Join the fifth annual Novel Boot Camp and whip your story into shape!

What is Novel Boot Camp?

Novel Boot Camp is a free writing course and workshop for aspiring novelists.

You can view the videos by subscribing to my YouTube channel, but if you’d like to participate in the workshop, please follow this blog so you receive updates to your email.

Changes to Novel Boot Camp

There will be a couple of changes to Novel Boot Camp this year. Because I want to increase the quality of the videos by providing more examples from published novels and by tackling more advanced topics, I need to cut back on the number of videos and workshops.

Rather than four videos per week, I will be posting three videos per week (15 total!) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (starting July 30).

Rather than three or four workshops, I will just be doing a single workshop (details below).

I know the reduced number of videos and workshops might be disappointing, but due to the higher number of participants and the more advanced topics, to make the best Novel Boot Camp possible I needed to simplify.

Thanks so much for all of your support over the last four Novel Boot Camps! I’m hoping this year will be better than ever!

The Schedule

Week One – Novel Openings, Prologues, Hooks

(July 30 – August 3)

Week Two – Backstory, Setup, Flashbacks

(August 6 – 10)

Week Three – Scenes & Momentum/Thrust

(August 13 – 17)

Week Four – Chapters & Chapter Titles

(August 20 – 24)

Week Five – Plotting & Query Letters

(August 27 – 31)

First Page Workshop

If interested, starting August 6, you can submit the first page of your unpublished novel for a free professional critique (by me!). Please note that these critiques will be posted on the blog but your name will not be included.

Important notes on the workshop:

  • Submissions open Monday (August 6) and close Friday (August 24).
  • The critiques will be posted the final week of Novel Boot Camp (August 27-31).
  • I will accept up to 500 words, but in the interest of critiquing as many writers as possible I will only critique as far as I feel is necessary to provide useful feedback (see last year’s workshop to get a sense of the format).
  • A submission form will be posted on the blog (inside a blog post) on Monday (August 6).
  • My hope is that you will be able to apply the information from the first week of videos (which are all about novel openings!) prior to submitting.
  • Submissions will be critiqued in the order they are received.
  • Due to time constraints and the number of submissions, I cannot update your first page after you submit it.
  • I also (sadly!) can’t guarantee that every submission will receive a critique.

Want to Join Novel Boot Camp?

There is no sign-up form for Novel Boot Camp. Simply follow the blog so you will receive notifications when the workshop submission form and videos are posted (the RSS feed and an email notification form are available in the sidebar).

You can also subscribe on YouTube to view the videos there instead of on the blog (but you won’t be notified when the workshop submission form is posted).

Want to connect with other Novel Boot Camp Participants?

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