Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Borderlands Boot Camp Experience

I spend this past weekend in Baltimore Maryland attending the 2013 Borderlands Writers Boot camp. I feel humbled and encouraged at the same time. There are times you’ll think that your writing is good. Most of the time you’re wrong. What’s important to realize is that every writer has been here. You will get better, but you have to choose to write better.

The Borderlands Boot camp provided me with the means to write better. In fact, the red marks on my manuscript are still bleeding. I felt like the weekend slipped by in a blur of insider information, quality feedback and critiquing, and introspection. Make no mistake, this was a writing boot camp.

- Everyone participating in the boot camp was friendly and approachable, especially the veterans who made efforts to make sure the newbies felt welcomed.
- The rooms were great and affordable.
- I walked away with a mountain-sized stack of feedback and a clear To Do List.
- Made some great new writing friends.

- The schedule didn’t leave a lot of time for us to fraternize with our fellow Boot campers. Several veterans came a day early and left a day later to get that time in with each other.
- The critiquing schedule didn’t work as several members were in multiple sessions together and didn’t meet with a subset of other boot campers.
- More up front disclosure would have been helpful. For example, providing a sample of what the instructors think is a good critique, or informing us of the specific areas the instructors were going to focus on during the breakout sessions (plot, character, and POV).

The 2013 Borderlands Boot Camp was an amazing experience that has allow me to see the prerequisite level of writing skill required to be a successful writer. Where do I go from here? I need to absorb the feedback and critiques, specifically from two perspectives: story/character and writing style. 

Here’s what I've gathered from the surface level comments and I’m sure I’ll be adding to these lists.

- firm up on my choice of point-of-view
- define my protagonist, tease out his personality

Writing style
- weed out the use of passive voice
- ruthlessly eliminate adverbs
- establish and maintain a clear point of view


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hey Steve, not sure what happened to your comment, but wanted to post it.

    "Hey Jason!

    Right there with you about the importance of an experience like that for aspiring writers. I am definitely a better writer this week than I was before I went.

    I am still wading through the critiques on my piece. I am starting to have a problem because in some places I have different suggestions, and I can't decide whose is better!

    Good luck with your book!

    Steve Voelker"

  3. Thanks for the comment. I feel the same way. There's some conflicting comments that has made me realize that there's no right way. I'll have to weight it all with my own gut feel and see how it plays out.