Sheila, Max and Darren taught me a lot about structure, style and sentences. Other writerly friends have added their own generous intelligence to erode my rough edges. Here’s three more.
Individuality: Libby O
Real-life mate and word-nuancer, Libby was one of the first to encourage my individuality. She spotted what makes me different and exhorted me to chase it. Many critiquers thought humour should play no role in crime writing. Libby disagreed. She’s a brutal stickler when it comes to punctuation and has threatened me with a colonoscopy if I don’t learn how to use a semi-colon, but she sees what makes a voice distinctive. She also makes me laugh and think.
Voice: Lee Williams
I sniffed this guy out on a peer critique forum very quickly. It wasn’t hard. He was always in the Top Ten, always gave constructive, practical feedback and understood the concept of voice better than anyone I’d come across. Lee demonstrates how attention to every single word choice adds precision to your style. He changes character, period, attitude and POV with such assurance, I suspect he’s actually a seasoned pro, moonlighting. Read a few of these next time you’ve got ten minutes to kill. Masterful.
Interference: John Hudspith
Johnny and I have bounced from critique site to writers’ forum; engaging, arguing, supporting and writing. He’s one of the best ever at wielding the paring knife. He sees when the ego begins to interfere, where the voice is not individual but borrowed, at which points external input smothers individual style and how to put it right. Every last one of my short stories deserves a credit to John. He makes you better. Even now, when I re-read what I’ve written, I can feel a phantom John on my shoulder, sighing and tsking and reaching for the red pen.
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