Special Guest Crit: Susan Dennard #1

The ridiculously wonderful Susan Dennard is offering a 50 page critique of a YA or adult fantasy novel via AUCTION. Bidding will run from now, May 23 at 12:00am EDT to May 24 at 11:59pm, EDT. Instructions and more awesome below!

I bet that book is full of NEFARIOUS.

About the Soozinator: Susan is a 27-year-old reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. Though she used to be a marine biologist, but now she writes novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues. (She really likes swoon-worthy rogues.) She lives in Germany with her French husband, Irish setter, and a crippling cookie-addiction. Her debut, Something Strange and Deadly, will be available from HarperCollins in 2012.


  1. Comment on THIS BLOG POST with your bid. Bidding starts at US$1.
  2. You may, of course, bid more than once.
  3. Once the auction closes, if you are the highest bidder, I will contact you to donate.
  4. Please DO NOT donate unless I email you! SERIOUSLY.
  5. Donate your winning bid to the mycharitywater campaign page by May 27.
  6. If the bid is not donated by then, I’ll contact the second highest bidder to donate, and so-on.
  7. Once the donation is made, email me the file.

Note from Ze Kat: Sooz is one of my critique partners, and I can honestly say I would not have gotten as far in my writerly career without her. Her comments are spot-on, she’s got a fabulous eye for plot holes and abnormally acting characters, is incredibly supportive, and also super industry savvy. You do NOT want to miss this opportunity, for serious.

More about Sooz’ critiquing style after the jump, or check her interview at Not an Editor.

Describe your critting style.
I’m pretty rough–I can’t lie.  If I notice anything that feels off, I point it out and offer suggestions on how to fix it.  Of course, I try to say things gently, but ultimately, I’m honest–and honesty can kinda hurt sometimes!  BUT, it does a writer no good if I worry about feelings and “ease” my critique.  The only way to learn is to find mistakes and fix them.  Plus, one day you’ll have an editor “critiquing” your work for publication, and they sure won’t hold back!

But of course, take all my feedback with a grain of salt.  It’s your story in the end, and so it’s up to you to decide what’s best. 🙂

How has critting helped you grow as an author?
I’ve learned to spot mistakes in my own work.  Critting has made me more adept at seeing gaudy description, 2-dimensional characters, empty settings, etc., and in turn, I’m able to catch it more easily both as I write and as I edit.

One of the hardest but most valuable lessons I’ve learned was keeping characters consistent!  Sometimes we have our characters act “out of character” because the plot needs some specific action now, and a reader can spot inconsistent actions a mile away.  Seeing this happen in work I’ve critiqued has helped me spot it in my own (um, because I’m really bad about it).

What’s the best thing you learned from a critter or critting?
Character inconsistency!  Seriously…this is something a lot of people do but can’t spot until someone points it out.

Also, I learned how important a REALLY BIG EXCITING climax is.  Go out with a bang, no matter what kind of story you’re telling.  Tension has to build and build until the very end.

And the worst advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t finish this.  I don’t think it’s a very good premise, and you should probably just write something else.”

Guess what book she was talking about: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY.  And guess what book is gonna be in stores summer of 2012: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY.

So booyah. Don’t listen to mean comments in the guise of “feedback”.  Objectively analyze everything.  Writing and reading is soooooo subjective, and what I think flies may not jive with your own style.

Who would be the better critter, Christian from MOULIN ROUGE or Gretchen Ross from DONNIE DARKO?
Okay, I just want Chrisitan to read it so I can stare at him.  And if his critique were in verse…  “My gift is my critique!  And this one’s for you…”

But then again, Gretchen Ross would probably be a better choice.  For one, she’s a teen.  For two, she’s clever.  For three, she’s kinda jaded, so if you manage to impress her, then you know your story is pretty rockin’.

Have a funny slogan for your crit in the Crits for Water Campaign?
My red pen is kinda like a lightsaber.  A lightsaber of AWESOME.

Got a question? Stick it in the comments, pop me an email (kat @ katbrauer.com), or follow me on twitter.