Sunday 2 November 2014

My A-Team of Critters

In my previous two posts I wrote about the value of having a critique partner.  But even better is a critique team.  Because sometimes you don't always agree with what a single critter says, and disregard their advice.  But when a few people tell you the same thing, you have to sit up and listen.  It took me a few months to put my team together, and though it's changed a bit over the years, it's core has remained relatively unchanged.

And just like the A-Team, who I grew up with in the eighties, each member of my team has a particular skillset.  Meet my A-Team of critters. 

My "Hannibal" of the group is Kat - there from the beginning, she is my "go to" girl, my most trusted adviser, a talented writer who doesn't mince her words. Always honest, always supportive.  She's quick to critique, and never shirks her duties.  She can be relied on, when all else fails.  She writes for kids too, so "gets" what I'm about.  Has a particular talent for seeing the big picture, coming up with inspiring ideas or ways to rewrite sentences.  Her word is "almost" gospel.

My "BA Baracus" is Chee, the guy who told me about Critique Circle.  His prose is as polished as Mr. T's bling. And this is his strength. He examines everything with a microscope.  He's the grammar cop and is brilliant at spotting a word, phrase or clause that doesn't quite work.  He'll help fix it too - BA style!

My "Faceman" is Suj - a discerning reader who tells you when something works (which is very important) but also when it doesn't.  This YA fan always brings an interesting perspective to the table and has been a valuable part of the team since the beginning.

"Murdock" has been filled by various people over the years but the most recent ones are Est and Bland. Est writes YA and is queen of punctuation. She also helps Americanise my US characters and will go out of her way to help you.
Bland writes for adults and is a sci-fi fanatic. He's intelligent and knows a lot about the craft of writing.  He is honest and a bit mysterious.

The internet is notorious as a place where abusive strangers hang out. But my experience on Critique Circle has been the opposite.  I've been bowled over by the kindness of strangers. 

For example, in my novel I have my American girl dial a wrong number and receive an automated reply.  But Est (Murdock) thought my automated reply (internet sourced) didn't sound quite right so she dials a false number in real life and sends me a transcript of the automated reply!

My other Murdock, Bland, wondered if a knot I was using in an action scene would be fit for purpose.  So what does he go and do?  He recreates the scenario using ropes and climbing equipment to test out my knot!  Can you believe that! He wrote about it here.

These are just two examples of how my A-mazing critique Team have helped push my novel over the line.  As Hannibal would say, "I love it when a plan comes together."

All images were sourced on Wikipedia


  1. Greetz, and welcome :)

    Usually I crit a text and that's it; besides, usually you just need a crit on the text, nothing else. Every once in a while though a little hands on research is fun, and thank you for giving me an idea or two. Best of luck with getting your new works out there!


  2. I love it when a plot comes together!

  3. It's been good to have you on my crit team, too, Kieran. Best of luck with the new novel. I'm looking forward to having it to hand. ;-)

  4. Your fantastic material is well-worth supporting. I can't wait to see it in print! :) Esther