Your first pages – 5 more novel openings critiqued by a literary agent (and me!) at @Litopia

I’ve just guested again at Litopia, the online writers’ colony and community. Each week they have a YouTube show, Pop-Up Submissions, where five manuscripts are read and critiqued live on air by literary agent Peter Cox @agentpete and a guest, or sometimes two (this time we had longtime Litopia member Dean Baxter).

The format is simple. Five manuscripts, each with a short blurb. We hear the opening pages, then discuss how they’re working – exactly as agents would consider a manuscript that arrived in their inbox.

As always, the submissions had many strengths. Issues we discussed included an appealing comedic voice but a scene that was spinning its wheels, subject matter that made the agent nervous, a blurb that didn’t do justice to the originality of the opening scene, a few beginnings that dragged their feet for some of us but kept others gripped. We don’t always agree! And we had a glorious techfutz behind the scenes when Peter’s sound card self-destructed in the heat, which meant we had to start recording all over again. You won’t see that bit, but you might notice the beads of perspiration on our working, worried brows.

Enjoy! And if you’ve got a manuscript you’d like critiqued, apply here.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.


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  1. #1 by Davida Chazan on August 17, 2020 - 6:16 am

    This sounds like a very scary process to witness!

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on August 17, 2020 - 6:46 am

      Yes, I’ve often thought that!

      • #3 by Davida Chazan on August 17, 2020 - 7:46 am

        And yet… I feel strangely drawn to having someone do that with what I’ve written so far for my novel.

        • #4 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on August 17, 2020 - 4:29 pm

          You can do it in less public circumstances if you want!

          • #5 by Davida Chazan on August 17, 2020 - 4:47 pm

            Is that an offer or a threat?

            • #6 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on August 17, 2020 - 5:15 pm

              It won’t hurt a bit. 🙂
              Seriously, I do that sort of editing, but you might not be at such a serious stage yet. And your book might not be a genre I’d be able to advise on. I have a consultancy page if you are looking… but I realise you might not be!

            • #7 by Davida Chazan on August 17, 2020 - 5:26 pm

              Not yet… but it is literary, historical fiction!

  1. Three Links 8/23/2020 Loleta Abi | Loleta Abi Historical & Fantasy Romance Author & Book Blogger for all genres

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