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Thursday, March 17, 2011

More Author Insight: Swapping Stories

  Do you ever share your story with anyone prior to submission? At what point and with who?

"I try to wait until I'm about halfway through a story before showing it to my agent. I also have a handful of friends who are kind enough to read it piecemeal when I need some fresh perspective, and this can happen whether I have one page or hundreds of pages." - Lauren Destefano, author of Wither. 

 "I try to wait until I'm about halfway through a story before showing it to my agent. I also have a handful of friends who are kind enough to read it piecemeal when I need some fresh perspective, and this can happen whether I have one page or hundreds of pages." - Shaun David Hutchinson, author of The Deathday Letter.

"I let my family, my critique partner, and my agents see first drafts." - Andrea Cremer, author of Nightshade

"My agent is always the first person to hear my idea. I get incredibly shy when it comes to describing my stories (even after they've been published!) so sometimes she has to drag it out of me. Sorry, Lisa." - Robin Benway, author of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June

"I have a crit partner who sees nearly all of my work, depending on how busy she is — usually, it will be a page here, a paragraph or two there, and then the entire draft when it’s complete. I also have a beta reader who has read every single thing I’ve ever written. More than once. (Poor beta reader!)" - Jackie Kessler, author of Rage

"Yes. I have one friend (Joan!) who I shared Unearthly with as I wrote, day by day, which was great. I read the story out loud to my mother, chapter by chapter, about once a week as I finished the chapters. And then my husband read it in chunks. After I had a first draft, I sent it to all kinds of people: writing buddies of mine, old friends, high school students, and got so much wonderful, supportive feedback. It's odd because in writing Book 2, the only people who read it this time around were a tight circle of 3 friends, my husband, and my agent. (And then, of course, my editor)." - Cynthia Hand, author of Unearthly.

"Sure – with anyone who’ll listen to me babble…lol. I started off as a singer/songwriter – getting instant reactions from crowds in cafes/pubs or even busking on the street. I was used to reading expressions, watching for a tapping foot or swaying body to tell me if the tune was working or a big old trainwreck. With writing – you send your work out in the world and it can take months to get a reaction. But for serious critiquing / idea sharing, my small, loyal critique group and the few beta readers I have are my rock. They see first drafts and all the variations until the finished product. I’d be lost without them." - Judith Graves, author of Under My Skin.

"Heck, yeah. Nothing gets subbed that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by my husband and bff’s." - Rae Carson, author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

"I try to have some alpha readers—people who read the draft as I’m writing and offer encouragement. It keeps me motivated. But I don’t let anyone else read it until after I’ve revised it at least once." - Veronica Roth, author of Divergent

"Yes, with my crit partners. Sometimes I share scenes, sometimes chapters, but when I'm finished the whole shebang for sure." - Myra McEntire, author of Hourglass.


"Before I was agented, no. I'm just not a big fan of critique groups for me personally. Now, I vet everything through my agent before I send it to my editors. I do talk about the story sometimes with writer friends, but that's more because they're my friends than it is needing writerly input! I think getting outside help is useful sometimes, but it can also just add to the chaos inside my head." - Rachel Hawkins, author of Demonglass

"For The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I had beta readers, and they were amazing. Some of them were long time friends. Some of them were family. Some of them read it in its earliest, most frightful drafts. Others I refused to share it with until it was virtually finished. It depended on the person, their personality, and our relationship." - Michelle Hodkin, author of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.

"I meet with a critique group once a month. I'll share a chapter or two with them. It helps, especially in the beginning when I'm trying to see if I've got the voice right, or if I'm having problems with a certain aspect of the novel." - Sarah Darer Littman, author of Life, After.

 "Only the editor involved with the project. I used to belong to a wonderful critique group of local YA/MG writers, but I'm taking a hiatus for a while." - Mitali Perkins, author of Bamboo People.

"I did with Bleeding Violet (I got feedback from a friend before I submitted it to agents), but not with Slice of Cherry. I had an editor by then and so there wasn't any need." - Dia Reeves, author of Slice of Cherry.

"I have a fantastic writers group, The SIX, made up of other YA authors.  I’ll share my work with them pretty early in the process, because I feel so comfortable with them.  As for everybody else, they can wait for the final version!" - Emily Wing Smith, author of The Way He Lived.

"As superstitious as I am about discussing my book ideas with others, I do talk to my husband about them.  In fact, he’s the only person who gets to read my books before they go to my agent.  As a beta reader, he bravely risks sleeping on the couch to tell me what changes need to be made." - Kimberly Derting, author of Desires of the Dead.

"I work with a critique partner, usually sharing chapters or chunks as we go.  We're very co-dependent--my strengths are her weaknesses, and vice versa.  After a book is finished, though, I like to send it to a couple of beta readers to get their overall impressions/find out about weak/confusing spots, etc. " - Kristi Cook, author of Haven.

"I have a few trusted critique partners who I share novels with after a few drafts.  My agent is a really amazing first reader, too.  Her suggestions are so spot-on that I feel stupid for not thinking of them on my own." - Holly Hoxter, author of The Snowball Effect.

Come back Tuesday to find out if the authors have ever based a character on someone they know!

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