- The writer picked the wrong point of view.
- This scene was totally telling instead of showing.
- Using present tense in this book really pulled me out.
- This book is exciting and not predictable.
- The writer makes me feel like I'm right there.
- It's so funny, and the writer totally knows how girls my age think.
Then there's my littlest one. She's way ahead of her grade in reading and loves to talk about characters and story. She illustrates stories and sounds things out surprisingly well phonetically. The other day she used sidewalk chalk to write out an entire Primary song on the driveway. When I called her in to get ready for bed, she was really upset, because the last two lines weren't done yet. I had to let her finish.
They all discuss books they like and why certain ones are better than others. They can pinpoint not just what they like and dislike, but why a book worked or didn't.
Recently a particularly fun bit happened regarding my good friend and critique group member Jeff Savage (current pen name J. Scott Savage), who is known for being ragingly anti-prologue.
Some of his reasoning is that a lot of readers don't actually read a prologue but skip to the first chapter.
Or if they read the prologue, they might do so later after they buy the book, but in the store, when deciding whether to buy it, they flip to chapter one and read that first.
He argues: why waste your time writing a prologue that might not be read anyway?
So here's what he does: he writes what are basically prologues, only he doesn't call them that. They're called "Chapter One." (Or in his next book, he includes several prologue-type chapters called, "interludes.") That way he tricks people reading the whole thing. Sneaky.
Not too long ago, my #3 began J. Scott Savage's Farworld: Water Keep.
(Quick side note: the second book in the series, Farworld: Land Keep will be out next month. Watch for it. It's even better than the first. But I digress.)
With a furrowed brow, she looked up from chapter one and said, "Mom, I don't get it. Chapter one is totally a prologue. Why isn't it just called that?"
I about fell over and laughed my head off. When the tears of laughter stopped, I explained it to her.
So much for J. Scott pulling one on all his readers. This kid had him figured out.