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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Interesting Experiment

For the past two days, I have conducted an interesting experiment with my after school writing club.
I decided to read  the beginning pages of several middle grade novels (not mine) to them and then asked them if they would continue reading further or not.

The results:

Very, very mixed.

For every student who raised his hand and said that he would continue to read, a hand went up saying that the snippet just didn't do anything for the listener and that there would be no further reading.

Then, I asked them why.

Reasons to continue reading:

"I was curious about what would happen."

"The writer made me wonder."

"I like stuff like that if it's about __________________"(insert snakes, scorpions, animals of any kind)

"It was exciting."

Reasons to stop reading:

"The book looks really fat."

"Creepy."

"BORING."

Most interesting find?

What I could have predicted, but was encouraged to have the data to back it up, was that one person's "creepy and boring" is another person's "exciting and intriguing".

Same words.  Different opinions.

Lesson:  Write YOUR story, the one YOU would want to read, and there is probably a kid out there who will want to read it, too.  (Of course, the opposite holds true....some kid out there is probably going to hate it....but don't think about that kid.)

hrh

16 comments:

Jonathon Arntson said...

You're awesome. Thank you for this!

Word ver: yermwiti

Hayley said...

That's a great lesson, it makes me want to go to the library sit down and read the first page of every book on the self just to see if it makes me want to read more. That and it made me want to get back to writing.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Isn't that interesting? Years ago when I was writing concept books, I took dummies to a school and had the children read them. Kids are truthful and cut right to the bone. It was a great experience I'll always remember. What is that saying...through the mouths of babes...or something like that. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Myrna Foster said...

This is so true.

L. T. Host said...

How neat-- what a great experiment! Thanks for the boost :)

Dawn Simon said...

Awesome post and great advice. Thanks, Shelley.

Susan R. Mills said...

Amen to that!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love this. Sometimes we try too hard to please everyone--an impossible task.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Lucky you. You have a whole assortment of nice white rats at your disposal. Mad Scientist Shelley.

Julie Dao said...

Terrific lesson, Shelley. This is something we need to constantly remind ourselves!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What an awesome experiment. This is great stuff, Shelli. Thanks for sharing!! :-)

storyqueen said...

Jonathon-Aw. thanks. This is just one in the line of many experiments I have performed upon the guineas.

Hayley-Me too! and Me too!

Kathi-Kids are certainly not shy about sharing their opinions!

Myrna-Yes....this is kind of how I thought it would go, but I wasn't quite sure. I had no idea it would be such an even split on most every book.

LT-You're welcome. It's as much for me as for all of you!

Dawn-thank you! It's nice that stuff that is interesting to me is helpful to others as well.

Susan-And a hallelujah, too!

Tricia-And then we end up pleasing no on....

Jessie-Mwahahaha! Next, I'll take over the world!

Julie-And yet, I seem to forget more often than not.

Shannon- I am already dreaming up the next field test.

Elana Johnson said...

What a great post. So inspiring and SO TRUE. Thanks for the reminder.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Kids are too young to sugarcoat. Gotta love them. I have been one member short on my courier team due to her maturnity leave for eight weeks, so I haven't able to visit my friends as I wanted. Glad to be back, Roland

Jackee said...

Great lesson. It's all about passion in the end, isn't it? For both the reader and the writer.

Thanks for sharing, Shelley!

lotusgirl said...

What a great experiment. Isn't it wonderful we're all different?