Since I got my chapters done yesterday, I allowed myself to watch Lost last night…except it wasn’t actually on. So we watched an old episode of Alias instead (we’re just finishing the fourth season). And then today I went to school to read my chapters. Anybody who thinks kids can’t critique has not met this particular classroom of kids! Seriously…they do a great job! They certainly get me thinking in new directions.
I was a little nervous about what the kids were going to say about this section of the book. There isn’t as much action/movement in these chapters. They were what you’d call “explanation chapters” (i.e. they’ve got a lot of technobabble that would probably make my son, Ben, cringe!) Ben doesn’t quite buy what’s going on in these chapters (he hasn’t actually read them, but he knows what I’m doing). So I was curious to see what these kids had to say. Specifically, I wanted to know: 1) whether they understood my technobabble, and 2) whether they bought it.
Sure enough, as soon as I finished reading, one girl (Megan) raised her hand and said, “I understand what’s happening, but I just don’t believe it.” I was really proud of her for speaking her mind. I think it takes a lot of guts to say what you think so publicly like that. Especially when you’re a kid and you’re speaking to an adult. But once she DID voice her opinion, I half expected the other kids to hop on the bandwagon. But no one did. I asked for a show of hands — who else doesn’t buy it? NO ONE raised a hand. But then when I asked how many DO believe it, only about 8 of the 20 kids who were there raised their hands. So finally I asked how many don’t know whether they believe it or not. About the same number of hands went up. I think there were some who didn’t vote at all. That still tells me this section needs some serious attention.
I’m definitely more aware of my writing process with this book (probably because I’m reading it as I’m writing it). And I can tell you the way I’m writing this book is VERY different from how I normally write a book. It’s very unusual for me to just plunge ahead when I know things aren’t working and threads are hanging. I tend to do a lot of rewriting as I go along. But this time, I’m sort of experimenting as I go. And I’ll actually have a complete draft down before I really understand how things fit together. It’ll be interesting to see how things go with the next draft. Will I decide later that getting a draft down first helps me see things I wouldn’t have seen otherwise? Or will I decide this was definitely NOT the way to write a book?