Saturday, October 24, 2015

Getting Ahead of Dull Interviews--for the Interviewer and the Interviewee

Better Interviews for Your Blog ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I couldn’t be the only one who skims over interviews of my fellow writers like a duty, or worse, don’t read them at all. And then turn around and read an interview in Time magazine all the way through.

Interviews that grab me and hold me to read all the way through have short answers. Some authors who write interviews for their blogs or love to be interviewed for others' blogs don’t know that, but once you do, you have control when YOU are being interviewed. But what about when you are the interviewer and your subject goes on and on . . .and on. How can we control that without offending?

We can tell our prospective interviewees upfront to try to keep answers within 50 words. and than there's this technique from the world of journalism:

When I was working for a newspaper, I learned that we--as the interviewers--are also the editors. That means we get to edit (shorten!) rambling answers.  Time makes sure that the layout of the interview lets the reader know that it won’t take too long to read each answer. Another technique is to be sure the first question is a little off-the-wall. That might set a higher interest level for both interviewee and reader.

I don't do interviews for my blog, but if I did, I'd tactfully let the interviewee know that I might need to edit it for purposes of style and length. That way, they aren't surprised when they see interview answers that aren't exactly what they submitted. (-: 

Here’s another tip that comes straight from my journalism classes: When we're wearing a journalism hat, we are not required to let an interviewee (or informant) review, check, or otherwise monitor what we have written. We have a free press in the US. So, unless you want help clarifying or editing or whatever, you aren't obligated to run what you have written by your interviewee. If you do, you run the risk of their defanging the humor, wanting long clarifying passages added, etc.

You may want to study Time magazine's interviews. They're usually on the last page in each issue. They aim at information, but also at a little spice--even controversy. 
 
Suzanne Leiurance, founder of the WorkingWritersClub, suggests you read this article to see if you can add some more interview skills to your battery of interview skills: http://www.communicationabc.com/how-to-write-an-interview-article/
and to
read this interview to see how one writer did it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilal-isler/standing-for-compassion-a_b_7774258.html

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 Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Editor; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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