I had the delight this evening of talking with a handful of Magic-playing “nerds” at the library.
Actually they started the Nerd v. Geek discussion a couple times, but ultimately said it was fine to call them nerds.
They were at the next table while I waited for other SCBWI members who never arrived. When a chair opened up I impulsively grabbed my character-list and (after verifying they were fantasy-readers) asked their opinion on the readability (and confusablity) of the names.
I got some useful feedback, and from the list began telling a corner of the story.
They were hooked, and I can’t say how exciting it was for me as a storyteller to have them hanging on and asking intelligent, clarifying questions.
One boy in particular was tracking very closely and made a couple connections on his own, which assured me of the story’s internal (fantasy) logic.
Jay said I should take the first few chapters back next week for them to read, and I think I will. The idea of instant feedback from my target-audience is very attractive.
Yes, they said they’d like to read it.
I’m currently trying to decide if there are any drawbacks.
The main drawback I’ve thought of is the kids’ age– they’re all 13, so they’re actually younger than who I think this story would be best for (15+)
Almost all the major characters in the novel are married before the half-way mark– which doesn’t have to be a total deal-breaker, but is definitely unusual for YA.
More touchy to me is the ugly but important part about the two babies born out-of-wedlock to abused/manipulated girls– abuse is off-camera, just implied, and a couple years before the story-action.
By the time the whole book could come out (even assuming it were done and accepted right now) I think they’d be old enough.
Mainly the issue is letting this sharp group of kids “go” and not trying any more of the story on them.
It’s made me want to find a batch of 15-year-olds, though…
Any 15 year olds at church?
I think it’s awesome that they would want to give feedback.
I’m also amazed at what is available for kids to read out there at a very young age. Although I haven’t personally read anything like it, I’ll be surprised if they haven’t run across anything like that yet, even at 13. I’ve already run in to some dfficult topics and my daughter is only 10. (Substance abuse being the main biggie–although it was done in a way I can accept and talk to my kids about–it was a very negtive thing in the books, thankfully. I’d have tossed the whole series if it wasn’t.)
wow nerd vs geek. Yeah I didn’t like being called a geek either. Nerd is much better. Well look at this way if 13 year olds. Get it; it should be fine for 15s. I have always found the younger kids have a much grasp of logic. I dunno why that is.
One 15-y-o, one 13 y-o, Dedee. (I’ve mentioned we’re a very small church, right?)
Mostly I’m not ready for youths I already know to look at it. Probably for the same reason I’m not in a hurry for my mom to read it– I can’t quite imagine them separating what they read from me, and I don’t want it to affect the relationships.
Does that make sense? It could all be in my head, too.
Bluestocking– I was discrete above. Maybe too much so to make sense. The main character is raising a son conceived via rape. Other characters are faced with mental and physical abuse.
A 13-year-old girl asked, “How can (the big baddie) have a son if it’s established he cares about no one but himself?” The thought that went through my mind was, “I shouldn’t be the one that takes that innocence.”
Then one of the boys said, “He was having fun,” and I jumped in with, “He was being a jerk.”