Thursday, September 8, 2011

Critiquerly Interview with YA Author Beth Revis

(Or, Critiquing = Developing as a Writer) 

If you read Authoress's critiquerly interview, you'll know that she has raved about today's guest. However, you may not know how frexing excited I am to have the author of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
because I love the sky (see above—I mean at the top of my blog, silly), and it's hard to imagine never seeing it again. Anyone who can make me think of this fact months after I've read her book ranks way up there (no—I mean figuratively).

Not to mention that it took me about two months to stop saying frexing as an expletive. Okay, okay. Maybe I still use it. Especially when driving.

As I hinted at last week, please welcome Beth Revis. (*cue the squeefulness*)

Beth Revis's debut novel, Across the Universe, came out from Razorbill/Penguin in January 2011.
A former high school English teacher, Beth can't help but blog about writing, grammar, and
publishing at Writing it Out. She is the founder of the newly popular dystopian blog, the
League of Extraordinary Writers, and blows off steam by trying to come up with something
witty in 140 characters or less, lusting after books on GoodReads, or wasting time on Facebook.
Beth is represented by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House.



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

BR: I didn't learn this from any one critiquer, but from years of working with crit partners and beta readers, and it's this: when you critique someone else's work, you become a better writer. It's so much easier to see the fault in other people's work than in your own--so reading others' works with an eye for looking for fault will help you see it in your own and naturally develop you as a writer.


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

BR: Whenever possible, phrase your comment as a question. Questions are naturally non-aggressive, and by phrasing your comment as a question, you are more likely to help the person see the crux of the problem rather than get defensive. For example: which would you rather see in a crit:

1. This character is boring--you should cut his whole storyline.


2. Do you absolutely need this character? Is he essential to the main plot of the novel?

I'm not saying to treat people with kid gloves--you can go on to explain your question and be brutally honest--but by opening with a question, you're leading the writer to come up with a solution that works.

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

BR: line-edit as I go, but when I have a larger comment, I'll make a number in the document, then add a longer note in another document. Then at the end, I add overall comments about the main things: plot, characters, pacing, etc. So, if you get a critique from me, you get two things back: a line edit, and a longer (often around 10 page) letter that deals with broader issues.


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

I mostly just keep notes of anything that makes me want to put the book down. It can be grammar, it can be characters, or plot, or whatever.


Thank you so much for stopping by, Beth. It's been a pleasure. I'm loving your response to the first question—so true. So the reason for this blog.

If you're a YA fan and haven't had a chance to read ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, and even if you're not a SF/F type of person, pick up a copy. We're talking serious must-read. But hurry, because A MILLION SUNS, the sequel, releases on January 10, 2012. 


January 2012





Jenny Phresh said...

Great interview! Thanks so much.

cherie said...

I love her advice to phrase comments in a question. I've never really done that before, but now I see how less intimidating or less aggressive it would seem. Great interview!

Marybk said...

Hey Jenny! Thanks!

Cherie--Me, too. Those questions are golden for the critiquer and the writer.

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