Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Critiquerly Interview with Author Miranda Kenneally

(Or, Lose to Grow)

By now, you probably know that I heart (<~not a verb, but it should be) my Crits for Water interviews. If you don't know about Crits for Water, read the blog post that started it all. And this week? I have a semi-surprise interview guest, because she was not on the original schedule. And when I say schedule, I think of the word in British dialect, "shed-dual." Just because.

But I digress. Miranda Kenneally, yet another one of Sara Megibow's clients, saw the Crits for Water campaign last week and decided to throw in (not one, but) two 25-page critiques. These critiques are up for drawing on June 16th, and everyone who enters the drawing contributes to saving the lives of people (including small, tiny children) who currently do not have clean water. It's awesomeness waiting in the sidelines (my football reference—duly noted—just for Miranda).

Miranda Kenneally is the author of CATCHING JORDAN, a contemporary YA novel about football,
femininity, and hot boys, coming from Sourcebooks Fire in late 2011. She enjoys reading and writing
young adult literature,and loves Star Trek, music, sports, Mexican food, Twitter, coffee, and her
husband. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook. Miranda is represented by Sara Megibow at
Nelson Literary Agency.

NAE: Who, as one of your critiquers/beta-readers, have you learned the most from, and what did you learn from him/her?

MK: I've learned a ton from Jennifer Shaw Wolf and Sarah Skilton, who are my agency mates at Nelson Literary Agency! Jennifer taught me that you must always know what your main character wants most. That will help you focus your plot. Sarah taught me that subtlety is key. Give your readers credit: they are smart. Don't write out everything they need to know. Make them think a bit. Also, my friend Trish Doller taught me that every story needs some sort of sacrifice, because that's what happens in life. It can be big or small, but the character needs to lose something in order to grow and become a better person.

B. After a writer gets back an in-depth critique, what would you recommend in terms of a review/revise process?

MK: The first thing to remember is that this is YOUR book. You must decide which comments should be implemented and which to disregard. A big mistake I made at first was taking everyone's suggestions. I ended up with bipolar characters and a weirdo all-over-the-place plot. When you first get comments back, take some time to really think over them. If you hate them, you hate them, and that's fine. Just forget about the critique and move on. Always wait a couple days before moving forward with edits. If you have a real hankering to write, work on some other project, or free-write in your main character's voice.

Always remember to say thank you to anyone who gives you a critique! Nothing hurts worse than when I give my time to critique someone's work, or give them advice, and then I never hear from them again.

NAE: What is the one piece of advice you can give to someone trying to develop his or her critique skills?

MK: Read, read, read. Figure out what works in published books and what doesn't. Then apply those lessons to your own writing, as well as to your critiquing process.

NAE: When you critique someone's work, what is your general process?

MK: I usually line edit as I go along. I generally know how plots should look and how they should develop, and I keep a watch out for certain things as I go along. When I'm done, I usually think about the book for a day or two before responding to the author.

NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?

MK: Generally I look at plot structure and specificity in the writing. Those are the most important parts of a book!


Thank you, Miranda, for your insights. I love your suggestion of free-writing in your character's voice. I might just try that. Maybe even right now.

Remember to spike (Okay, okay. You caught me: 2nd football reference.) on over to the Crits for Water site and enter for a chance to win one of the two 25-page critiques by Miranda. And watch for Miranda's CATCHING JORDAN debut later this year.


Tracy Bilen said...

I like the sacrifice idea - interesting!

Sarah Skilton said...

You are so sweet, Miranda. I've learned from you to use dialogue to reveal character. You make great use of dialogue in your scenes.

Jennifer's advice to always know what your main character wants is a great reminder, and Trish's makes excellent sense, too.

Marybk said...

Tracy: I know, right? I like it too.

Sarah: Thanks for stopping by! Love that agency-sisterly love.

Jennifer Wolf said...

Okay this makes me laugh! I thought you were the one teaching me that I had to know what my characters want. Miranda is a great beta reader and always finds the plot holes I try to hide.

She has FABULOUS voice in her writing. I fall in love with every one of her characters.

Marybk said...

Hi, Jennifer. Miranda's got a fabulous interview voice, too!

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