Every author should have one and if they don’t, they’re missing out on something serious. Most authors do and a lot of them are grateful for it. I’m one of them. In fact, I’m one of the “support team’s” biggest fans.
Given that I’ve not been published yet, (other than self-published short stories), my support team are friends and family. Now, right about here, half of you are going to roll your eyes and say “Everyone knows those people are prejudiced!” Well, unfortunately for me, you’re completely right.
My particular support group is prejudiced, no question about it. To quote one of my editors “We’re here to trim your ego down to size”. And they do it. On a regular basis. Best of all, unlike professional editors, mine don’t reserve their ego-chopping for my writing. They trim my ego at all times, regardless of what I’m doing. Handy, aren’t they?
Those are my two older sisters. They’re my proof-editors, the ones I ask to look at a story and tell me what’s missing. They’re pretty good. They also catch a lot of grammar and spelling errors. Mom, however, does the real work in that department. I usually don’t even ask. I’ll say “Hey, mom, would you like to read my newest story?”
She says yes, most of the time. Then, two days later, she says, “Hey, Michael! You’ve got a comma in the wrong spot on page 134 and you misspelled “attack” on page 321.” I don’t even have to ask.
I’m probably the only writer in the history of the profession whose mother informs him of “non-negotiable” requests for his writing. My mother (for some strange reason) really enjoys my “Hunter” short stories. Last week, she informed me that he needed a blonde spot in his hair, similar to the one that I have. She also said that I didn’t have a choice, it had to be put in the story, somewhere.
She and my sisters also tried to make me write a pet into the “Hunter” series, an animal that he finds on a Hunt and tames. I told them “No dice”. But it’s a pretty good example of how little my opinions matter in my writing. (Joking, there) In the most recent short story, “Hunter” was going to accomplish his Hunt by a rather unscrupulous and opportunistic turn of luck.
Bot mom and my sisters informed that I couldn’t do it. They said that it would make him “the bad guy” one that would no longer be the likeable rogue that he started out as. After thinking about it, I realized they were quite right. My family is remarkably diverse in their taste in reading material. My mother enjoys medical thrillers by one of the more popular writers in that genre. My younger sister prefers a slightly darker genre of fantasy, particularly a set of stories by M. I. McAllister. My older sister find a great deal of amusement in the witty scribbling of P. G. Wodehouse.
When all of them agree on a specific problem, I know that problem is genuine and needs to be fixed. It’s even more obvious when they all agree, independently of each other.
Now, I have editors, alpha readers, and beta readers. The most recent addition to that support team is an artist. Said artist is the sister who likes the McAllister books, though I had not asked her for a drawing before. She recently did a pose of “Hunter”, not only nailing the idea that I had of him, but adding a little more flair than I’d imagined. When a writer finds an artist who can properly illustrate the writer’s ideas, the books and stories gain a whole new level.
So, to the support team – anyone and everyone who’s helped me with my writing – even if only by giving me your opinion; thanks. It would be a lot harder and a lot less fun without you guys.