Boot Camp

Let the noted Agent-Editor team of Toni Lopopolo and Shelly Lowenkopf guide you to find your dark side as a novelist; reaching your unique inner noir. Then turn your story into the dynamic manuscript every agent, editor and reader wants to read.

Shelly LowenkopfAuthor, executive editor, masters writing instructor at USC and UCSB, co-founder of PIPW — Shelly Lowenkopf is a living embodiment of book publishing who has spent his entire career in the business. You will walk away with a deep understanding of the craft of writing when you attend one of Shelly’s workshops.
Learn more about Shelly…


Noir Fiction Intensive.  Be prepared to Go Dark—Very Dark—and Publishable—Very Publishable.

Bring an open mind and your opening 3 pages and synopsis. Here’s How Your Noir Intensive Will work:
Morning: introductions. Who are you, what are you writing.
Writers bring their synopses, and pages.  Toni and Shelly will stress the major story points:  STORY IS KING, Character is story.  Both will introduce you to the skills that make up the craft of book-length fiction that must be mastered.Then the first noir bomb of the day:  Toni will read your pages aloud to the group, followed by a detailed discussion of each reader’s pages. Reader listens, speaks last.  What’s great, what needs word:  dialogue, Backstory, writing style.  Pacing, characterization.Two-hour working lunch break.  Writers go to lunch with an assignment to bring back. Three pages on main character: What does she want? What is she willing to do to get it?  Why does she need it now? What stands in her way?

Afternoon:  Discuss each lunch hour assignment, how professional writers listen to, work with editors.

    • Discussion of opening velocity, order of appearance, the Reader Feeder.
    • How to turn up the burner on your character as you do on a lobster in a pot.
    • Talk on “in the beginning is the ending.”  How you can push your character further, and why you should.
    • Creation of a “series” character.  Toni as agent, speaks of 3-book deal.

End of Day:  Q and A, Reading assignments.


Toni LopopoloToni’s career in publishing began as a book publicist, progressed to sales then as an executive editor at Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press. She has taught writing on both coasts and became a literary agent 20 years ago. With her move to California 3 years ago, she continued educating writers so that they can get published.
Learn more about Toni…


Emotional Impact of Story Intensive The crucial importance of STORY in fiction and nonfiction.Story consists of:

    • Terms a reader can understand
    • Structure
    • Focus  i.e. point of view
    • Goal of Character(s)
    • Agenda
    • Gauntlet character must walk (one hour spent on this topi)
    • Consequences of reaching or not reaching goal
    • Why you to write this story; what do you bring
    • Why should reader care?
    • Your assignments during session
    • Your pitch ends the session

Each writer must own and bring Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (nonfiction writers as well). Optional but highly recommended: Stein On Writing by Sol Stein

Bring pad and pencil or laptop to write with as you will need to read your improved pages. Bring a list of the books read in last two years.


Learn how to avoid these pitfalls:

  • Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas.
  • Story urges the creation of works that will excite readers.
  • Story is about archetypes, not stereotypes. Memorable characters were never real people, even if they lived.
  • Story is about thoroughness, not shortcuts.
  • Story is about the realities, not the mysteries of writing.

Each day includes a buffet lunch and drinks. Within three days after workshop, a free podcast of the day will be made available to all attendees.


For further information email Toni Lopopolo,
or call Toni at (215) 353-1151

What Students Say:

“The L and L team was just what the doctor ordered for me personally. I wrote this piece in four months with almost an obsessive zeal and spent the last year going over and over the material with a hired editor. I have had three people read it and each has paid me high compliments but none have any connection with the writing establishment. So, though it was pleasant to hear their words, I have been somewhat skeptical. You two have been the first people who have looked at it with experienced eyes and your perception has been invaluable. I was at a point of letting it all drift away and at the end of the session the woman next to me said she was excited about reading my story. I was thrilled.” – Michael J. Rogers

“I had a wonderful time at the XBC. Got a real kick out of Shelly. I could tell both of you bring a vast expanse of knowledge and experience to the table. Both of you work well together. It is always good to reinforce what I have learned, plus I learned much more. Took lots of notes. Quite motivational. I hope to attend more in the future.” – Antony