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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Novel Boot Camp #4: Creating Conflicts

14582613060_bdf9bf5018_oConflicts seem pretty straightforward. As people, we encounter conflicts all the time so we feel like we’re pretty much experts on the topic. But often aspiring writers do not think about conflict in the right way.

If you aren’t defining conflict accurately, your novel is going to lack tension, suspense, and structure.

So what is the real definition of conflict?

Continue reading

Novel Boot Camp #3: How Not to Suck at Similes

Portraits of Artists from Archives of American Art, Smithsonian InstitutionIf there’s one thing in a manuscript that can scream “amateur writer!” it’s a bad simile.

If you’ve forgotten what a simile is, it’s a comparison using “like” or “as.” For example: His beard was like cotton candy (see photo).

When done well, similes can paint vivid pictures in the minds of your readers. It can make them smile with pleasant memories, cringe in pain, or even gag in disgust. Similes can be a powerful little tool when done the right way in the right circumstances. Continue reading

Why Do Bad Books Get Published?

8616927440_915409ebee_oIt’s a question that all aspiring writers ask themselves at one point or another: Why are there so many bad novels on book store shelves?

While we can’t expect every novel to be literary gold (some books are just for fun), there sure are a lot of bad novels out there!

Sometimes all of these poorly written books can give writers the impression that their clearly superior novel should have no trouble getting published, yet when these writers query, they are met with rejection. It’s easy to feel like there is a double standard. Why do mediocre (or worse!) books get published when my great one keeps getting rejected? Continue reading