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Writing Show First-Chapter Makeover Series Call for Participants

The Writing Show is launching a new reality show: “The Writing Show Makeover Series.” In this fascinating and fun hands-on set of programs, our editors will critique and help you polish your work while The Writing Show community looks on. Everyone wins: you get professional advice and encouragement; the community gets to see how it’s done, one step at a time.

This is how it will work. We will post your chapter on our Web site (anonymously if you wish), then add the editor's comments. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to revise, if at all, we will record a podcast featuring you and our editor and post your revisions on our site. You don’t have to accept the editor’s suggestions, but we do want to hear what you think. The whole point is to open up a window on the revision process, not to force you to work a certain way.

We’ve already signed up dynamic editor Ann Paden, who was an extremely popular judge in our 2007 First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Contest. Now we’re looking for writers to participate! How about you?


  • There is no entry fee!
  • What we’re looking for. We are looking for first chapters of novels from writers with promise who might benefit from one-on-one dialogue with an experienced editor. You must be willing to enter into an exchange of thoughts with Ann and respond to her suggestions. Response could take the form of a re-write, or perhaps a rejection of Ann’s notes, or more likely a little bit of both. Your conversation with Ann is our story, which we will present both as a podcast and as text on our Web site.
  • Anonymity. You may participate anonymously using a pen name if you wish, but of course, The Writing Show needs to know who you are.
  • Language. All works must be in English. A few foreign language words in the text are okay.
  • Genre. The following genres are okay: literary fiction, popular fiction, mystery. Please do not send fantasy or science fiction to the makeover. Ann Paden does not have in-depth expertise in those areas.
  • Length. Length must not exceed 4,000 words.
  • Prologue. You may include a prologue with your chapter, but the chapter and prologue combined may not exceed 4,000 words.
  • Authorship. You must be the author of the work and hold all rights to it. The work must be unpublished. If you have co-authors, you may both/all participate, but we need permission from all of you.
  • Technology required. You can reside anywhere in the world, but you must have access to a land-based phone line or Skype for recording.
  • Who will select. Ann Paden and Paula B. will select the chapters.
  • Deadline. Chapters are due March 31, 2008. The series will begin when we’ve selected our first chapter.
  • Number of shows. The number of shows dedicated to any one writer will depend on how the situation unfolds.

How to Submit

  • Send your name, snail mail address, email, phone number, Skype ID if you have it to We do not share this information with anyone, but we need it to get in touch with you and to figure out time differences.
  • Include the following disclaimer in the body of your email:

I am the author of this work and hold all rights to it. (If multiple authors, ”'We are the authors of this work and hold all rights to it.”) I have not infringed anyone’s copyright or other intellectual property in the creation or distribution of this work. I agree to abide by all rules and guidelines of The Writing Show Makeover Series. If I am selected to participate, I grant The Writing Show permission to display the work and any modifications I or the editor makes to it on its Web site or sites. I retain copyright in my written work. I agree to participate in The Writing Show podcast without remuneration. Paula Hollywood, Inc. holds the rights to the podcast and commentary portions of the series.

  • Attach your chapter to the email in Word, .RTF, or .TXT format and send to Please do not use Final Draft to create or format your chapter; we can’t read it.

About Ann Paden

Ann Paden is a writer and editor who worked as a manuscript editor for academic and commercial presses before becoming a feature writer for a national newspaper chain and later account manager for a Chicago-based advertising agency.

Since 1990 Ann has worked as an independent writer specializing in business histories and as-told-to biographies and as an editor specializing in manuscript analysis and critique. Her many publications include They Built Chicago, with Miles L. Berger; I Bought It at Polk Bros; and Maria Chabot and Georgia O’Keeffe: Correspondence—1941-1949, with Barbara Buhler Lynes.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Occidental College and did her graduate work at the University of London and Harvard-Radcliffe where she was elected a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.

Ann says of “The Writing Show Makeover Series:”

It boils down to finding ways to help the writer make of his work the very best that he, not I, can make it. "Re-writing," even a little bit, is hard to resist. But fiction is his creation, his vision. Has to be. I love working with fiction writers. But the process goes much further than the "critique" form. Lots of hand-holding, 'atta boys, exchanges of ideas. The fun part is seeing how wonderfully these writers respond to input and support. But this is a process that occurs over time.