Writing a book for young adults and middle school students is a bit of a challenge. I think I remember being that age and what I liked to read, but how can I be sure that I am writing to my intended audience? Will average middle school students understand what I am trying to convey? Am I using vocabulary that is over their heads? Or alternatively, have I underestimated their abilities? Will they find the story gripping or too drawn out? And how will I know?
Being a novice at writing I have decided that I should see if my intended audience likes my writing. I need a focus group. I need middle school readers to tell me what they think. This week Crossroads Academy is having a non-academic week. The students rehearse for the spring musical every day, and then there are a few periods each day in which they are given the opportunity to do various activities led by teachers and parents.
I have bravely (or possibly foolishly) volunteered to let 6th, 7th and 8th graders sign up to read my 2/3 written manuscript. Eighteen students signed up. I sent my file to the local copy store and I have acquired eighteen red pens.
On Tuesday and Friday I will be giving my 136 page draft to these students. I plan to tell them to go at it with the red pen as if they were the teachers. I want them to tell me what works and what doesn’t work. I want them to critique the writing. I will ask them to tell me if they are getting confused and want me to describe situations in more detail or if I have bored them. I will ask them if they find the characters likable. And most importantly I will ask if my story makes history interesting? Does it make them want to know more about the Holocaust?
I want them to be honest, and yet I am a bit fearful of their opinions. What if they don’t like it? What will I do then? Will it stop me in my tracks or will it give me the motivation to dig in deeper and make it better? Is this a good idea or am I a fool for putting myself out there?
3 thoughts on “Beta Testers, Focus Group or Guinea Pigs”
Keep us posted. I want to hear how the editing went.
If the kids pan it (extremely doubtful), make it a book for us adults!!
Sorry for you. They didn’t pan it. Some liked it so much they kept it to read this week as they didn’t have time to finish in class!