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.
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."
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.)