Tips on Tuesday: Who are Your “Experts”?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

A GREAT short article, “Out of the Mouths of Babes” in the new (May/June 2014) edition of Writer’s Digest, by Kathleen M. Jacobs really caught my eye. Jacobs had watched over the years as her nieces and nephews “journeyed” from picture books to storybooks, to chapter books. When Jacobs decided to write her first novel (and had already published short fiction, poetry, personal essays), she hit upon the idea of asking her niece to read her book and give her a few suggestions.

We should all wish for such a critique: the young girl gave her a thumbs up, but also told her where to give more clear description, why she shouldn’t give so much detail in another chapter, where the information load was too light, how much she loved the dialogue and interactions between characters, and “oh, by the way, you misspelled voracious on p. 68.”

She also recommended passing the book around to some of her young friends who did not know the author and get their opinions. All the young people marked in different colored pencils where the magic was evident and where there were places of confusion.

Jacobs said, after getting feedback from teachers and publishers in various conferences and classes for years, it “wasn’t until I sought out the appropriate readership . . . how important it is for writers to go straight to the source.”

Who, in your life, is part of that “appropriate readership”? If you don’t have nieces and nephews of the right age — and their friends — how about a “project” for a local school? Or a gathering at a library nearby? Try to get readers who don’t already know YOU, but are good readers. Find and USE your own “appropriate readership.”

See you next for Thinkin’ on Thursday!

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