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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Interview: CP Sarah Clift

Hey all! I am trying something new with the old blog lately. I am going to be interviewing folks who might have some interesting perspectives on writing, publishing, editing, and all that good stuff. So to start things off, I'd like to introduce you to Sarah Clift, one of my two awesome critique partners!

(For those of you who don't know, a critique partner is a person who reads your work and gives you feedback before you put it out there in the world. They are invaluable for people who want to improve their writing skills. That being said, everyone has to find a style and group that works for them! I suggest swapping 10-15 pages for critique and then deciding how you feel about the other person's style, and vice versa. That is how I found Melanie and Sarah and they are the beeeeeeeeest.)

So here's Sarah!

1. What do you write?
My first novel was what I termed a YA paranormal, but years later, I still can't exactly say what genre it was. After that, I discovered contemporary, and I've written a YA contemporary and MG contemporary. I'll probably stay in MG for a while because I think inside I'm still a 12-year-old girl.

2. Where you're from, how long you've been writing, etc.
I'm in Northern California, and I finished my first novel in May 2012. I guess that's what I call my writer birthday because it was the day I proved to myself I could string together enough words to make a novel.

3. What is your critiquing style when you are reading for others?
It depends on the stage. In a beginning stage, I like to give a manuscript two reads. One time I read straight through, and the second time I go through and make comments on what I like and what's confusing. If a manuscript is closer to a final draft, I like to do some copyediting and make sure it's coherent. Something I've noticed is that sometimes I'll read something that's not my cup of tea. That doesn't mean it's a bad story, but maybe I'm not the intended audience. So I try to channel whatever that audience will be and make suggestions accordingly.

4. What do you like to get out of critiquing when someone is reading for you?
I like a reader to say what she likes and what is confusing to her. Sometimes it all makes sense in my head but doesn't come out that way on the page. I also like suggestions on how to make the plot better paced because that's something I always struggle with.

5. What do you find unhelpful in critiquing?
I don't respond well to people who try to make me feel dumb. I can deal with harsh criticism if it is dealt kindly.

6. How many CPs do you have? How did you find them?
I've had a few in the past, but you've been the only one I've maintained over the years (you're that awesome!). (Ru's Sidenote: Aw, shucks.) 

We met through GUTGAA, right?

(Ru's Sidenote: OH MY GOSH, I had forgotten how we met! Yup, that was how, haha.)

I think we were matched by Robin. Also, my dad is a writer, and we're always trading pages. I've had a good handful of beta readers too, and they're helpful especially at the end stages when you need a fresh set of eyes to make sure everything makes sense.

7. What do you recommend to writers looking for CPs?

I feel that for a successful critique partnership to work, you have to respect the other writer's talent and opinion. It sounds uppity, but if you feel you are further along in your writing education, you might not trust the opinion of the other partner. I feel beta readers are great regardless of how they match up to you in development, but to be able to trade critiques successfully, you have to have mutual trust and respect. That's why it's a good idea to do a test run of trading pages before you commit to a partnership. It's also helpful to have a partner that writes a similar genre that you write.

Follow Sarah on Twitter here!

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