Diverse Books, Diverse Voices

Diverse representation—of characters, of setting—is something that many editors are now actively looking for. A significant part of the solution is, of course, signing more writers of color, but that can’t be the sole answer. This panel discussion will delve into issues of representation and answer some of your questions along the way. How do you approach writing a character whose background is different from yours? How do you do it in a way that is authentic, respectful, and moves beyond tokenism? If you want to write more consciously and inclusively, this panel will prove invaluable to you. Come with questions!

Agent Panel: First Page Critiques 

Good news: Your query worked and an agent wants to read more of your novel. It’s not the time to make a bad first impression. Bring your first page and a bit of courage to get in-person feedback.  Patricia Nelson, April Eberhardt, and Laurie McLean will hear selected submissions read aloud by a member of the WD team, and then offer their real-time impressions on your work—all from an agent's perspective. All first-page critiques will be anonymous but will yield invaluable feedback for their writers. 

Creating a Character Board To Bring Your Characters To Life

One effective way to create lively characters on the page is to create a character board first, enabling you to envision who your character really is. We’ll discuss the elements of creating a character board, using Pinterest, illustration or scissors and glue, to get to know your characters in full 3-D before beginning to write. You’ll leave with a list of all the things you’ll want to know about your character to bring her or him to life on the page.

Ten Ways To Create Compelling Characters (Even Unlikable Ones!)

Deeply interesting characters keep the reader hooked. Learn ten ways (and more) to create characters that are unique, unexpected and utterly absorbing to your reader, even when they’re less than likable! We’ll look at examples of ways successful authors have rendered unforgettable characters, which will inspire you as you create your own.   

DIY MFA Novel-Writing Boot Camp

DIY MFA Book Cover

In this fast-paced and information-packed boot camp, you’ll learn essential techniques to help you plan, write, and revise your novel and explore a seven-step system to help you take your novel from zero to submission-ready.

This boot camp is for you if...

  • You dream of writing a novel, and you want to start on the right foot. This boot camp is the crash course you need to get you from the “wishing and waiting” stage to actually writing. You’ll leave the boot camp with a plan in hand. Think of it as a roadmap to get you to your book's finish line.
  • You’re stuck in the middle of a novel and have no idea how to get back in gear. This boot camp is packed with supercharged, writer’s block-busting techniques so you can troubleshoot that sagging middle and any other hurdles that come your way. You’ll also learn strategies to help you strengthen the chapters you have already written and plan the sections that lie ahead.
  • You’ve finished your novel and have begun querying agents, but you keep getting that dreaded “thanks, but no thanks” reply. This form letter reply is a sign that there’s something in your book that needs work and—guess what!—you have the ability to fix it. In this boot camp you’ll learn how to address classic trouble spots to make your manuscript shine.

About the Boot Camp 

Gabriela Pereira is an author, speaker, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the instigator of DIYMFA.com, she believes in empowering writers to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to their education and professional growth, and she has made it her mission to help writers reach their goals.

In this boot camp, Gabriela will walk you through her signature seven-step method to help you start, finish, and revise your novel. Her mission: to help you transform your novel from average to awesome, and make it submission-ready. Here’s what you’ll learn during this full-day boot camp:

  • Step 1: Start Strong with Good Habits. Learn a game-changing approach that will let you create efficient and effective writing habits.
  • Step 2: Craft a Compelling Main Character. Discover your “Storytelling Superpower” and craft a protagonist that resonates with your readers.
  • Step 3: Bring the Character to Life. Using Gabriela’s “Character Compass” technique, learn how to make your character come alive on the page.
  • Step 4: Send the Character on a Journey. Find out how to start your novel with a bang and hook your readers from the very first page, using Gabriela’s super-secret, easy-peasy, storytelling formula.
  • Step 5: Muddle Through the Middle. Uncover tools and techniques to help you get through that sagging middle and sustain your story’s momentum.
  • Step 6: Sprint to the Finish Line. Map out your story and develop a writing plan and roadmap so you can continue your momentum after this boot camp is over.
  • Step 7: Revise Your Book Like a Boss! Use Gabriela’s signature “Revision Pyramid” method to revise your book until it sparkles.

Whether you want to write novel, have been writing and revising, or are somewhere in between, you’ll leave this boot camp with a solid plan so you can finish your manuscript, polish it, and get it published.



Not sure if this boot camp is right for you? Here’s what other writers had to say:

  • “Gabriela presented in a friendly, professional way, but with her own sparkling personality. This is one teacher who really knows what she’s doing, and projects just that.”

    —Bob Isbill
    Director of “Howl at the Moon” Writers’ Conference
  • “Gabriela’s presentation and worksheets have changed how I look at story structure and my writing process. I took a recent synopsis I was having trouble with and jotted everything down on the worksheet. Immediately my problem became apparent and I was able to clean it up quickly and send it to my agent.”

    —Celia Kyle
    New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
  • “Attending Gabriela Pereira’s information-packed session provided me with such great advice that I have referred to the notes almost daily since I started writing my second book.”

    —Niko Godfrey Bommer
    Freelancer in Film and TV

Have you been waiting far too long to write that book of your dreams?

Do you want to get your novel from draft to done?


Meet Your Mentor

Gabriela Pereira

Gabriela Pereira is an author, speaker, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the founder and instigator of DIYMFA.com, her mission is to empower writers to apply an entrepreneurial mindset to their professional growth. Gabriela earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and teaches at national conferences, regional boot camps, and online. She is also the host of DIY MFA Radio, a popular podcast where she interviews bestselling authors, and is the author of the book DIY MFA: WRITE WITH FOCUS, READ WITH PURPOSE, BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY (Writer’s Digest Books, 2016).