Anyone who knows about my writing adventures has probably heard me talk about Little Sis. Today, February 8, is her birthday so I thought it was fitting time to write a tribute to her.
Little sis is actually my younger sister. But she’s a lot more. She’s my confidant, my partner in crime, the person who knows more about me than anyone in the world, yada, yada…
For the purposes of my writing adventures, Little Sis is my primary critique partner, my brainstorming buddy and the embodiment of my ideal reader. I trust her more than anyone in the world because 1) she understands my stories 2) she’s tough as nails and won’t let me get away with anything.
Little sis will take hard copy of my manuscript and read through the entire thing, writing in the margins:
1) Lazy, try harder
2) Go deeper, what’s her emotional reaction?
3) His eyes are ALWAYS blue, change it up
4) More conflict!
5) Chapters 8, 9 and 10 are going to have to be re-written entirely
6) And, once in a while, the coveted: Good!
But that’s not why I love her. I love her because after doing all that and making me go through all these painful edits, she’ll do it again. It takes a special sort of tough love and care to do that.
Little sis used to read my stories when I wrote in a spiral notebook in junior high school. Sometimes she would wait beside me and I’d hand over a page as soon as I finished. She didn’t used to edit then, because she was eight years old. But imagine someone who basically used to play editor and critique partner as a child. She read all the books I read and more. Little sis got through the LOTR trilogy before high school and I couldn’t even get past the Shire.
Then after college, little sis put her money where her mouth was and declared she was going to be a writer in a family where mum wanted us all to be doctors or lawyers. That took some conviction. Little sis completed her MFA and has published a short story in a literary magazine, written a screenplay and started several novels. She’s got way more writing cred than I do.
I learned how to critique from her. Her philosophy is that any manuscript can be made better and she genuinely loves to read. As a result, she’s one of the readers who can take a polished, pretty solid manuscript and not be content to let it rest. Good is not good enough. It needs to shine and resonate and dig deep. Sometimes I feel I wouldn’t know what to do without her. When I get stuck, I actually want to fly across the country and throw my manuscript at her feet and beg for her to look at it.
Who are your writing partners you can’t do without?