(Or, Feeling a Spark)
Kat Zhang is another lovely Crits for Water auctioning author, giving a 5,000-word YA critique, up for auction here on June 6th. I love finding out about the newest authors out there, covering their critiquing style even before their books hit the shelves, and Kat has this intrigue-y-ness about her that draws me in. You’ll see. Check out her blog.
An English major, Kat is represented by Emmanuelle Morgen of Judith Ehrlich Literary Management.
Her book HYBRID--about a girl with two souls--has recently sold to Harper Children's in a 3-book deal.
She also performs as a Spoken Word poet, contributes to Let The Words Flow--a site where aspiring
writers may learn more about story craft and the publishing process, and blogs privately at the The Katacomb.
NAE: After a writer gets back an in-depth critique, what would you recommend in terms of a review/revise process?
KZ: I'd recommend waiting a day before starting the revising process, or at least spending that day planning/making a list of changes to make and such instead of actually diving into the manuscript. Often, sleeping on a critique letter helps me figure things out better. Of course, sometimes you get a spark of inspiration right after reading the suggestions, and it would be a pity to waste that ;) Other times, though, what I *thought* was a marvelous idea 5 minutes after reading the critique turns out to be not so great the next day, after I've pondered it a bit more!
NAE: What is the one piece of advice you can give to someone trying to develop his or her critique skills?
KZ: Don't get so bogged down in the little things (grammar mistakes, etc) that you don't get the big picture. Often, it's the big things like character arcs, plot threads, pacing, etc, that really count.
NAE: When you critique someone’s work, what is your general process (e.g., line edit as you go along, read once before editing, read several times, etc.)?
KZ: I don't always line edit. Usually only if there's some egregious mistake or if there are almost no mistakes. Opposite ends of the spectrum, I know, lol. I usually only read the manuscript once before sending a critique, though if my CP revises and wants me to read the manuscript again, I'm open to it :) I usually use the "comments" function to do very specific comments and otherwise note my reactions. Sometimes I take notes in another document, though, especially more broad suggestions. That's what I do for notes I give as an intern.
NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing (e.g., plot, grammar, characters, emotions, etc.)?
KZ: I think I cover all of it, really. I'm a total grammar nut, so if someone asks me specifically to check their grammar, I'm happy to. Some don't care as much about those things, though, so I don't bother too much with it unless, again, there's some relatively big mistake that they keep making. I definitely concentrate a lot on character and emotion--I love character driven stories. I think I'm pretty good at judging pacing, too. Unfortunately, I seem better at noticing pacing problems in other people's stories than in my own!
Thanks, Kat! I love “getting that spark of inspiration” after reading a critique of one of my projects. It truly keeps me going.