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Workshop: First pages

Our third First Pages event will take place in February!

  • Please try to submit as close to the start of the event as possible, as we saw that those who submitted later last time didn’t get as much feedback. 
  • You may submit revised versions of the same work you submitted to the last First Pages event, please make a note in your post if this is the case. 

They say the first five pages are the ones that decide your novel’s fate. Will they grab the reader’s attention? Will they set up the right expectations for the rest of your book? Will they show your writing in the best light?

Sometimes it’s difficult to judge for yourself, which is where we come in. During the month of February, you can submit the first 5 – 10 pages of a manuscript work in progress for your fellow Dragons to comment on.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

– Please submit the first pages of only one manuscript for this particular workshop. If it goes well, we will have similar workshops in the future that will give you the opportunity to debut other works of creative genius.

– If you’ve submitted, please be kind enough to return the favour and read at least three other submissions (that’s a total maximum of 30 pages) for other writers. You may, of course, read as many more than that as you like!

– Please submit single-spaced in a sized 11 or 12 font that is easy to read (for example, Times New Roman). This stipulation is only to ensure that everyone gets to showcase roughly the same amount of work.

– Please submit 5 – 10 pages and feel free to cut the submission at any convenient point before reaching the 10 page limit. (This means that no one manuscript will take anyone too long to read).

– Google Docs: We will be using Google Docs for this workshop. It is very similar to MS Word but is based online. This slideshare will take you through how to create the document you’ll be sharing with us if you are unfamiliar with Docs (from slide 18) http://www.slideshare.net/…/basic-tutorial-how-to-use-googl…. Once you have pasted in your first pages and given your document a title, go to “share” on the top right and then “get sharable link”. Make sure it says that anyone with the link can comment before you copy and paste the link into Facebook.

– When you post your manuscript to Facebook, please provide a brief blurb that gives it context. You can simply include the genre and age group if you feel that is enough, or you could make it your full-on, back-of-the-novel, hook-the-reader blurb. This will guide readers in the kind of feedback they give.

FEEDBACK GUIDELINES

We will be using the Google Docs comment function to leave feedback. You can find this function by going “insert > comment” or pressing “ctrl+alt+m” when your cursor is next to the part you want to comment on.

When giving feedback please bear in mind the following:

1. Try to also comment on the things you like, don’t just pick out flaws. Aside from softening the blow of negative feedback, this positive feedback also indicates what the writer should do more of.

2. Remain humble. Remember that, no matter how informed you are, your opinion is the view of one reader. Don’t say “you should do this” – everyone has their own way of solving problems. Rather say why something is an issue for you. E.g. “I feel this character wouldn’t have done this, considering how hungry she was” vs “Don’t make her walk away from the food, make her grab it and scream YES!'”.

3. Strive to be encouraging. It’s scary putting creative work before the eyes of strangers. Even if you do not enjoy what you’re reading, whenever you post a comment ask yourself if this will help the person to write better. For e.g. rather than saying “this paragraph is a mess”, think about ways the paragraph could be improved, “This would probably read better if you restructured it by grouping similar ideas together”. Tone is very important, especially if this is the first time someone is feeling brave enough to share.

4. Context is king. Bear in mind the genre and intended reader when making comments. Critiquing a romance for being too romantic, or a sci-fi for being out of this world is not useful feedback wink emoticon. This is why we encourage everyone to include a blurb, so you know exactly to expect!

ACCEPTING FEEDBACK GUIDELINES

– Feel free to ask for clarification on feedback you receive, but do not argue! Remember that this is not personal, a person getting the “wrong idea” is getting it in the same way any reader might.

– You are not obligated to respond to feedback. If you don’t agree with it, don’t implement it (in other words, ignore it). Some people will just not be on the same page as you, and that’s okay.

– Look at this as a learning experience rather than a personal criticism. Everyone will have something “wrong” with their writing, especially during a first draft. Every piece of writing can be improved upon an infinite amount of times. You have a wealth of knowledge about your novel that a fresh eye does not, and this kind of exercise is merely a way of pointing out what bits of that knowledge are coming through (and perhaps what bits need to). If you get loads of criticism, remember that it doesn’t make you a bad writer. It just makes you a writer.

Well done on being brave enough to open your first pages up to us and we hope this is a fruitful experience!

Join the event here or Find the previous event page here to get an idea of what to expect