Too Much Blushing: A Revision Story

I’m wrapping up a new revision pass on a middle grade novel.  It’s been through all my regular critique partners, and I needed a fresh perspective before I finish and send it back to my agent. I especially wanted to identify any places where the pacing was slow. 

So earlier this week, I gave it to a few of my book-loving 7th grade students, along with three stacks of Post-It notes.  I asked them to put a pink Post-It in spots they liked best, a blue one in places where they were getting bored, and a green one with a comment where they had something else to say.  One student returned the manuscript two days later, and I just finished working through her comments.

She pointed out seven places where I was able to tighten up the pacing and went on to offer another 38 suggestions on everything from voice to consistency.  Check out the variety of feedback…

It’s kind of weird that she’s crying from that comment, which wasn’t even that bad. Maybe you should make it meaner.

This whole cross-country part is really entertaining.

How old is Ian?

Oh – I can relate to this part!

Too much science talk.

I thought it said she zipped up her sweatshirt when she went out, and now you’re talking about a jacket.

Is Nonna her dad’s mom or her mom’s mom?

A real kid wouldn’t say this.

I love evil school people.

Too much blushing here- too sappy.

Does this kid have a future in editing, or what?

Her last comment made me laugh in recognition.  I really try to guard against sappiness in my writing, but when you’re the kind of person who listens to Barry Manilow and cries at Folgers commercials, it creeps in occasionally.  Thank goodness I have a twelve-year-old editor to help me root it out.

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