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    Jan Carr

    September 20, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Re ‘What’s it like to be Barbara’ is really about character. Can you become her when you write her? Can you get into character a bit like an actor would and write from that place?

    You’re right about explanations and showing rather than telling but what’s going through her head at that point? Absolutely a dispassionate explanation would be telling but either in the narration or her actually speaking, Barbara saying something along the lines of what a dumb gift a number would have been more useful would show as well as tell us what she’s thinking. You do hint at this but it feels a bit thin. It’s MG so you don’t want a lot of words – it’s one reason why kidlit is actually harder to write!

    Barbara has a great voice – I love the comment in the narration re her uncle – does the man never sleep.

    When she sighs and slumps on the bed would be a good place for to further show what Barbara is feeling. For example, as she’s angry with her mum for leaving her she might drop the ribbons in the bin before she slumps on the bed – anger with Mum would fit with her actually using them at the end of the page – we would have seen she doesn’t value them. Could they do something magical at some point in this page – just a tiny hint? Eg she might feel a tingle in her fingers when she’s tying them or thy might feel warm?or some sparks even? No explanations here obviously just show the reader clue about their purpose.

    Re adjectives – the description of her room is lovely but adjectives are telling. The patterns on the ceiling are good because they show she’s lying on the bed. But actually with the pink chest of drawers you given me good picture of the room – I can fill in the rest and I think a young reader would too. Aunts giving them things that were too young for them was very a familiar to my kids when they were MG age! As far as possible cut adjectives in favour of strong verbs – what a character is doing is much easier for a reader to visualise than a static description.

    Really do hope that helps, Adam. I love MG and am trying to write it too!