This is the blog of children's book author and elementary school teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Making the Most of Feedback - From Kids

As a writer who is also a teacher and a mom of the age group I write for, I often read my work for kids. But kids aren't always the most reliable sources of information. While they can be brutally honest, they also get out of being descriptive by telling you they like things they don't. Here are a few tips to getting honest feedback from kids.

1. Give them permission to hate it
If you are reading to kids, make sure that they know it is okay not to like what you are reading to them. Make sure that they understand that you want their honest feedback because it will make your writing better. Sometimes that's all it takes for them to tell you want they really think.

2. Reactions speak louder than words
Do they laugh at the right parts? Do they groan when you want them too? Kids can control what they say (for the most part) but their reactions come naturally. Make sure to watch and listen when you are reading. I always know when my words have fallen flat when my class starts fidgeting.

3. Be specific
Don't just ask, "So what do you think?" Ask questions about your characters and plot. The more specific you are, they more you'll know if they have been following you. Ask questions such as, "If there is one thing you would change about what I just read, what would it be?" 

4. If you have to explain it, something's missing
As in any critique, make sure not to justify your work. Listen to what the kids have to say. If there is something they didn't understand, don't explain it. Think of ways to clarify the idea in your writing.

No matter what kids think of your writing, remember that information is for you, not for the agent or editor you query. For more query writing tips, make sure to check out this recent post by Chuck Sambuchino that includes advice from my agent, Linda Epstein.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolution

The end of 2013 was a very busy time for me. Here's what I have been up to:

1. I wrote a new novel, revised it, and sent it off to my agent. Yipee!

2. I started a group blog called Sporty Girl Books and have been posting on that blog twice a month.

3. I started a new school year which came with a whole slew of common core related changes. 

4. I continued my work as New England Critique Group Coordinator and started at least six new groups for writers in the NE area.

5. I coached my daughter's soccer team (for more on that you can read my last post on Sporty Girl)

The one thing I let go in all this has been this blog. I am therefore resolved in 2014 to go back to posting twice a month. 

What are you resolved to do this year?