Friday, January 15, 2010


On Wednesday I threw you a life line. Today I give you

Becky Levine, Author

Whose book is being released today.

Becky, congratulations on your book launch! And thanks for answering a few questions. Forgive me if this first one sounds a little whiney. But, what’s this about self editing and revisions? Do we have to?

Yes, Joyce, we have to. :)

The whole point of getting our writing critiqued is to have help making it better. And, although I’m sure many of us have done this, leaving all that critique feedback in a pile to gather dust is not the best way to handle it! While it can be a challenge to figure out how to weave (or not weave) all those comments into our stories, it’s this kind of revision, I believe, that brings magic to the writing process.

Can you tell us how you got the idea for this book?

I’ve been soap-boxing about critiques groups for over 20 years! I hadn’t really thought about writing it, until I sat on a panel at a writer’s conference with Jane Friedman, from Writer’s Digest Books. People asked if there was a book about critique groups, she said WD didn’t have one, and my brain said, “Hmmm!” I pitched the idea to Jane, and a couple of weeks later sent her a TOC. Lots of luck and a little bit of pushing myself to take a chance.

What has been your biggest challenge in working with a critique group?

Other than keeping myself from interrupting another critiquer when I get excited about an idea? The biggest challenge for me is reminding myself to dig deeply into the story, to push myself to give the best feedback I can to another writer, even when I know that—initially—some of that feedback will be hard for them to hear. I work hard to present my comments as respectfully and gently as I can; everyone in my group does. Within that framework, though, I have to remember that I’m not doing the writer any good by not doing a complete, thorough read.

Got any funny (or tragic) critique group stories to share?

Not to share online! :)

Hmmm. Why do I think I want to hear more about that. Anyway - what sort of critiquer are you?

I think I’m a strong critiquer. I tend to give a pretty detailed critique, with notes all over the manuscript and a page or two of overall feedback. I do think I focus pretty heavily on character motivation, the whys behind behavior and actions. I don’t realize this until I listen to the other comments my critique partners give—where they’re seeing all the plot twists that are/aren’t working, and I hear myself thinking, “Oh,yeah. Right. That, too

In terms of receiving feedback, I think I have a pretty thick skin. It is such a relief to me to know that I’m going to get ideas from “out there,” that I don’t have to solve every plot problem or figure out each character arc in solitude, that I really love getting comments from my group. On the other hand, I could definitely do some work on keeping my mouth closed a little more tightly when I’m being critiqued. I don’t argue (much), but I do find myself jumping in with questions and possibilities, when I should be letting my critique partner finish up their job!

It's clear from your book that you take critiquing very seriously. I have a feeling you're a model participant. And if you weren't before, you'll have to be from now on! : )

Thanks for chatting with me, Becky. I have a few more questions but I'll save them for one day next week. That'll remind readers to participate in your book giveaway.

If you're not Becky and you're reading this blog, do yourself a favor - enter the contest. The instructions are in the sidebar under the book with the auspicious title.

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