Themes: Reading Like a Writer & How To Become Your Own Best Editor.

Turn  your project into a successful novel or narrative nonfiction project.  How to get an agent/editor to read your submission all the way thru to the end.  This bootcamp is way beyond any writers group or writer’s conference capacities.
(Please note: last bootcamp until late fall.)                                                              

Shelly Lowenkopf, professor emeritus, masters writing program, USC, and nationally renowned book editor, along with Toni Lopopolo, literary agent, writing instructor, Temple U., former executive editor Macmillan and St Martin’s Press, present a Fiction Bootcamp Intensive Limited to 10 Advanced Writers.

Once your writing is accepted, reserve your place a.s.a.p. , details below.

What to Expect

The program presents intense focus on how to enter the zone where your writing becomes exploratory rather than descriptive.  Examples from Dennis Lehane, Irwin Shaw, James Lee Burke, Raymond Carver, Kate Atkinson, Richard Powers, others.

Intense focus on:

  • Your opening page (velocity vs. set up)
  • your first chapter
  • your familiarity with your characters
  • your characters and their development
  • your character’s defining moment
  • refining point of view; insight and intimacy
  • using the six senses
  • creating tension and suspense
  • stay out of your own story (why the who ain’t you)
  • how to write a clean sentence.  (no ings, as’s or adverbs)
  • how to spot “tells”
  • how to spot author intrusion
  • how to keep your protagonists from sounding normal, i.e. boring
  • how to get in bed with your characters (interior monologue)
  • how to raise the level of intimacy with your characters
  • how to make your characters surprise them and you
  • story vs. plot
  • your genre 
  • literary or special niche?
  • what is episodic vs. story flow ?
  • Putting your story to the test  (Story is King)
  • acupuncture points in your story
  • your dialogue; like real life or like fiction?
  • taking your novel’s blood pressure.
  • your pacing
  • your story
  • your plot
  • your “show” vs. “tell” ratio
  • your description vs. movement
  • your narrative vs. dialogue
  • your voice
  • your reader feeder

If you do not have a project ready for this in-depth workshop, bring a rough draft of what you have. Listen to Toni and Shelly arguing about where and how a novel should open, whose story it is, and what the story’s goal should be. And from their informed arguments and differences of opinion, writers will understand what editors go through trying to get the other personnel in a publishing house, like marketing, publicity, and sales, to support your work.

Bootcamp Interview with Toni & Shelly
In this interview, Toni and Shelly
talk about the Bootcamp with a
former student.
Click here to view interview.

 What you will also learn

Blocking scenes, chapter arc, story arc, opening velocity, charged dialogue that attracts agents and publishing editors, discovering what “tribe” you belong to, writing to your tribe, what to say, and when to say it.   What is your voice and how to use it, why it’s important to sound like you, recognizing and repairing soft spots, perfecting  the craft of self editing, how to write the perfect pitch for your novel or narrative nonfiction book, how and when to approach an agent, how to work with an editor once you win a contract.

You will also learn to delete today’s hack usages, overused words, superfluous adverbs and adjectives, and how to “kill your darlings.” You  will avoid the 10 Most Common Mistakes First Novelist Make.

How to Reserve Your Spot

Send NO MORE THAN 10 PAGES, plus synopsis, to these two email addresses for consideration of your work:, and  Do this asap. If/when you are accepted your pages will be edited and sent back to you, ready for revision, after deposit is paid.  You will bring those pages and more to the bootcamp.

If/when you are accepted reserve your place by following the instructions below:

The fee for this incredible three-day writing intensive is $495.00 (4 meals included).  Send a deposit of $100.00 to:

Mr. Shelly Lowenkopf
Box 536
Summerland, CA 93067

*Balance is due by September 14th.

Workshop Location

Cafe LunaCafe Luna Gallery
2354 Lillie Ave
Summerland, CA  93067

Summerland is located on I-101  between Santa Barbara and Carpenteria  Please email or phone Toni, (215-353-1151) with any questions or information about accommodations.

Toni and Shelly work as a team, which means that for most of this rare and remarkable weekend, writers will find themselves between a rock and hard place. Both have experience working with unpublished writers and both have done hands-on editing at numerous publishing houses.

 What’s different about this bootcamp is that the writers who make it in will be at a comparative level of skill and we can skip the basics.  During the course of this interactive, work-off-the-flab, kill-your-darlings weekend, you’ll get line-by-line feedback on the first chapter of your novel in progress, with emphasis on how the first chapter fits the novel as a whole and how it will compete in today’s market. This tough love team has witnessed enough stuff that didn’t sell to make them experts.  Their paths first converged at Bantam Books, where Toni began her publishing career, and Shelly brought Bantam its first million-copy reprint.

Every writer attending will come away knowing how to block scenes and revise any manuscript. Writers attending will receive a handy usable syllabus to consult before starting any new project. The syllabus has a reading list of fiction and nonfiction titles. Writers will also come away with the skill to write the best pitch possible for their novel, a sense of what it is to work with an editor, and what to expect when the book finds a home with a publisher.  In the bargain, you’ll get a realistic notion of what an agent does, and does not do, for instance, working magic on your novel (NOT !)when in fact it needs revision.

Bootcamp Schedule

The Bootcamp will be held at Luna Cafe Annex, 2354 Lillie , Summerland, CA . and begins at 5:30 Friday night, Sept. 23th, with a get-acquainted social hour.   From 7:00 to 8:30, or as long as needed, a brief presentation from Toni and Shelly, a brief Q & A, then the writers will introduce themselves, reveal precisely what they hope to get from the class. The instructors will discuss how the group will be divided into two segments, with attendants switching during the day so that each student  gets time with Toni and Shelly separately and in concert.

Saturday, Sept 24th,  9:30 A.M. – 9:30 P.M.
9:30-11:30  Discussion of edits (with half-hour break).
11:30-1:00  Lunch.  Brownbag or Luna Café, nextdoor.
1:00-2:30   Discussions of problems seen by Toni and Shelly.   
                      Approaches to revision.
2:30-300     Break
3:00-5:30   Discussions of first chapters, Q & A
5:30-6:00   Break
6:00-7:00   Toni and Shelly discuss characters, dialogue, blocking scenes, chapters.
7:00-8:30   Dinner
8:30-10:30  Reading Like A Writer…not as easy as it sounds.

Sunday, Sept 25th, 9:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
9:30-10:30   Students discuss new projects with Toni & Shelly discussion of each writer’s story. (story conference)
10:30-11:00  Break
11:00-12:30  Discussions Characters, backstory, revision, more dialogue.
12:30-1:30    Lunch
1:30-4:00     More pagesread aloud ,  Q & A, writing that perfect pitch letter, and query, specific suggestions for each student on what project to work on next.

Toni Lopopolo
Literary Management
4410 Nueces Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Cell: 215-353-1151


1 Response to

  1. I’ve participated in two boot camps (beginners & intensive) and did learn some significant writing skills that enhanced my works in progress. Toni and Shelly know the craft of writing and thankfully pull no punches when making suggestions. You’re not their to be coddled but to learn and learn quickly, which I appreciate when I pay for something. If you have the passion to write and want to improve the boot camp is an intensive way to accomplish that goal.

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