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Even Ian McEwan Has Critique Partners

I often hear about authors’ critique groups.   Some authors hire beta readers.   Some rely on random readers and some have a trusted circle.   Ian McEwan falls into the latter group.   His first readers are poet Craig Raine, historian Timothy Garton Ash and philosopher Galen Strawson.

Ian McEwan, it turns out, has a triumvirate of friends whom he entrusts with his novels before anyone else, with the poet Craig Raine scolding him whenever his writing becomes too formulaic (the pair will mark FLF, “flickering log fire”, in the margins of each other’s work whenever it falls into cliche). McEwan won’t even let his friend and fellow novelist Martin Amis near his books before completion, preferring to trust it to Raine, Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash and philosopher Galen Strawson.

The Guardian via ShelfAwareness.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Jamie
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 10:44:11

    Well, good! It’s nice to know that we ALL need help when we are writing our books… and hey if you can’t trust your friends to be honest… then they aren’t really your friends, now are they?

  2. vanessa jaye
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 11:03:20

    I love that FLF acronym. lol. A good crit partner/beta reader is worth their weight in gold. Especially the hard-ass ones who’ll give you the goods straight.

  3. Janine
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 18:35:55

    This doesn’t surprise me at all.

    I love that FLF acronym too! How funny. And good to know that even writers that famous succumb to cliches from time to time and have to excise them like the rest of us.

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