My daughter is a keen editor, an elementary-age kid with book smarts but no concern for diplomacy. When her chicken nuggets taste like something rubbery covered in dirt, she lets me know before the pan has cooled. Maybe it’s not dirt. Maybe it’s sand. Where’d you get the sand, Mom?” Then comes the request for a second dinner, like maybe brownies.
These are key duties for an editor. Identify the problem, explore the problem, and ponder a fix.
That’s why my daughter is my first reader. Even when she was younger than the target age, I’d read my work to her.
Flashback. I was feeling pretty good about my first middle-grade novel, the forthcoming Graham Cracker Plot. Funny stuff, but it seemed to call for some character background in those first pages.
So I began to read. My daughter sat on the floor, looking at me with earnest eyes. I read and read. Then I paused for a drink of water. She crossed her arms and sighed. Mom, when is the story going to start?
Brilliant! When you start the story, start the story.
Sometimes I forget the obvious because it’s an early draft, and I’m discovering characters and packing those discoveries into the first ten pages. That’s why it’s a draft. That’s why writers need good readers.
Thanks, kiddo, for the crossed arms.
You can stop doing that now.