Junior Editor  July 28, 2006Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
“Maybe the boy could explain what he got.” I had tried too hard to belt a home run. She knew the novel was concluding. She could sense that I was about to tie up the last of the loose ends, but I had muddled the words. I had overstayed my welcome as an author. My daughter, the reader, wanted one more chance to spend some time with a character in which she had invested emotional energy. She wanted to hear from him, not me.
I thanked her enormously for her excellent suggestions and she knew I was impressed with her insights. I needed to understand the common thread of her critique. The four main problems with the book she brought to my attention dealt not with the description, the plot, the mechanics, the vocabulary, or the setting. Of course, if those had been muddled I would certainly have heard about them.
For my daughter, a true representative of the audience for which I was writing, it was all about relationships of the protagonists. She needed to be included in their jokes and their fun. She needed them to be true to themselves. She needed adults to respect them. She needed them to spend speak to her and respect the time she was spending with them.
For me, the teacher, it was all about engagement. Knowing the book she was reading was a malleable and living thing that she had permission to alter and change as an editor, engaged her. She read, the reacted, she suggested changes, she opined, and she wrote. Her engagement with the text brought her to higher orders of thinking. She tap danced across the length of Bloom’s taxonomy and grew a little self-esteem along the way.
I am not so certain that I would ever get authors to part with their rough drafts of manuscripts, but I could certainly see the potential. Perhaps the middle school editors would make different choices for some of the characters we have come to love over the years. It would certainly be interesting to see. It would also be quite engaging.