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Exchanging Crits with a non-kidlit writer

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What are the things you keep in mind when receiving a crit from an adult writer? I realize a lot of things stay the same, and yet there are some differences.

For example, one of the comments he gave was, "This sounds incredibly juvenile." I definitely go back and look at it and try and make sure it's in voice and true to character, but I couldn't help thinking, "It's supposed to sound juvenile. He's 13."

What's your experience?
#1 - April 12, 2014, 05:32 PM
THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC (Boyds Mills Press, Fall 2018)

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It depends on the writer's familiarity with books and readers in your age category. If the writer has a 13-year-old son and reads books with him, I'd put more weight in the comment than if he knows no children and never reads middle grade or YA. In the first case, he might be saying the 13 year old sounds 8. In the second, he may just be annoyed because a kid is not acting like a grown-up.
#2 - April 12, 2014, 05:41 PM
Kell Andrews

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It might help to ask specific questions instead of leaving it open. For example:

- Does the plot work?
- Are there plot holes?
- Is the dialogue realistic?
- Were you bored anywhere?
- Were you confused anywhere?

Or ask them about something specific you think needs work.

I've had mixed experiences with this kind of critiquer. Sometimes it's spot on; sometimes it's less than useless. Just use the advice that resonates with you and forget the rest.

Also, make sure this isn't the only critique you receive. If you get the same kinds of comments from several people, the problem probably exists. If you only hear it once, it's probably wrong or subjective.

#3 - April 12, 2014, 06:07 PM

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I had a reader who was sure that my vocabulary should be simplified. He was wrong. But he did a good job of pointing out things that weren't specific to genre--plot, pacing, etc.
#4 - April 12, 2014, 06:50 PM
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I once had someone complain that repetition (rule of threes) was annoying, and no repetition should be there. But of course, kid-lit authors had a different view of the repetition. I don't always find it works out to get a critique from a non kid-lit. But it's still good to get as many crits as possible...some do come up with great suggestions and we can always ignore what we may think is not valid.
#5 - April 13, 2014, 04:18 AM
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Nidhi, what do you mean about repetition in regard to the rule of threes? I'm familiar with the rule of threes but haven't heard anything specifically about repetition? I just want to make sure I haven't missed something. :)

#6 - April 13, 2014, 10:19 AM

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Everything they said^  :yup

And one more- I have learned to subject early drafts only to readers who-
A. Like kid-lit, and really know it.
B. Have liked or at least not disliked *some* of my writing before.

It has to do with resonating to what you are doing. Some never will, and their feedback, much as you can tell yourself you may ignore it later, can be a serious derailment. We need corrections and pertinent observations, not have our muse stepped on.

"Sounds Juvenile" is a red flag to me. Anyone who knows kid-lit would say "the voice is too young for the MC," or some such. If a reader is already in a negative groove they may really hurt your work.
#7 - April 13, 2014, 10:40 AM

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I agree with what everyone has said, and hope you have some kidlit critiquers, too! If not, the Blueboard is a great place to find people who write in a similar genre to swap manuscripts with, or to find a critique group. I find that a lot of people who don't write kidlit really don't understand it. And sometimes kidlit writers don't understand other kidlit genres well enough to give good advice (there's such a huge difference between PB and YA).
#8 - April 13, 2014, 11:50 AM

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I think it depends on what TYPE of kid lit.  YA? I always have adult fic writers read & crit. MG? Nope. PB? Nope. [size=78%](I actually prefer that my adult fic friends who read my YA are not kidlit readers. . . much like I try to get a SFF reader and a romance reader.  In series books, I like a reader who is new to the series & so missed the earlier books.) [/size]

I ask them to flag anywhere they were tempted to skim or skip, anywhere they had to stop to think about the plot or character, anywhere they were confused.  The rest I suss out post-reading bc leading questions make me fear that they'll go in anticipating an area of weakness in the places I pre-address.

That said, with the middle-grade . . . I rely solely on my kids, a few of their friends, a few moms, & my co-author. No adult fic writers there or really, YA writers unless they're moms who read MG. I have a totally crit different process there.     
#9 - April 23, 2014, 05:15 PM


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