I’ve been polishing my latest draft of Storyteller (a middle grade fantasy I wrote) and decided it was time to read it, out loud, to my daughter, who is now eight years old. She’s a bit young for middle grade reading (12-18 yrs), but I figure she can easily handle the story if it’s read to her. She’s been wanting to read it for some time and been very patient with my brush offs, like “Leave me alone! It’s not done!” She’s even suggested some of the plot points I ended up using, so I obviously owe her big time for all her love and support.
So, she’s in bed (where we usually read) and I’m reading a chapter to her, trying my hardest not to start editing the thing, when I read a line that says something to the effect of “Lily knew it was probably the nail in her coffin, but she didn’t care”.
“Huh?” says my daughter. “What’s that?” Now you try explaining this figure of speech to someone who lives in a world where coffins only appear around Halloween time and they rarely have nails in them anymore anyway. It was a wakeup call for me and the phrase was immediately erased from the manuscript. Now, if my daughter says “huh?” there’s a big circle around it for closer inspection later.
The whole episode led me on a wonderful “find and replace” adventure with my manuscript. I had no idea I had so many glances over the shoulder and so many occurrences of the word “suddenly”. Thank goodness for word processors! Reading out loud to a human being other than myself has helped tremendously and I resolve to do it with everything I write from now on. Well, almost everything. ;)