Children's author crowdsources the editing of her new time-travel novel

Illustration for article titled Children's author crowdsources the editing of her new time-travel novel

Most authors nowadays try to get as many pairs of eyes as possible to look at their books before they're published. Look at the acknowledgements of any science fiction or fantasy novel, and you'll see a list of beta readers and people who gave feedback on early drafts.


But author Andrea White is taking this idea one step further — and giving kids a chance to become more involved in the writing process. White has posted the entire text of her novel, Time Angel, on her website, so kids can give her feedback long before it's published next spring. White writes:

Students, I have posted a draft of my new book, Time Angel. But I know I've made mistakes. And I know you can help me tell the story better. Let me know if you find spelling or punctuation errors. Are there parts of the story that are confusing to you? Do you have some ideas for me about how to make my plot, my character or the world of the book come alive?

Talking to CultureMap Houston, White explains that she wants to help bolster kids' reading skills by turning them into editors. "This is a great way for kids to understand writing is a form of communication," she tells CultureMap. "Kids' imaginations are wild, so I can't wait to see what kind of input they have." She'll also be skyping into classrooms starting in August, to answer kids' questions. She's been a supporter of public schools since her husband was mayor of Houston, from 2004 to 2010.

This is a really cool idea — and I wonder if any authors of "grown-up" fiction will have the guts to follow White's example. Oh, and Time Angel, the second book in a trilogy, sounds pretty neat in its own right. It takes place at the Chronos Academy in UpCity, where lucky kids learn to be, basically, Time Lords. Here's the description for Time Angel:

Shama Katooee is an orphan with nothing remarkable about her. Or so people think. She is invited to attend Chronos, an elite school for time travelers, for a single reason: no one will care if she dies in an experiment. At Chronos, the Time Keepers believe that their role is merely to guard the most powerful machine in the world, the QuanTime computer, a Time machine.

[via CultureMap Houston]



I'm going to fall back on a quote from Neil Gaiman for what I feel is really problematic about this plan.

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

Asking children to read something critically, not just for entertainment? Great idea. Asking them to correct the mechanics of something? Wonderful. Asking them to analyze what might be confusing? Lovely. All ways to make them think outside the box. "Like editors".

Asking them to how to improve characters? Doomed to failure.

Look, I'm not a professional writer, but do professionals get character advice from their editors? (be those crowdsourced editors or otherwise?)