Talking Narrative with Test Reader #1


So, our first test reader to get through the bulk of the novella (the last part has been kept from the reader in order to not spoil the ending) sat down with me and we had a discussion about the story and all that she has read so far. This is that discussion!

Oliver:
So, you’ve read through the majority of the book (save for the end, because we don’t want to spoil the surprise). And you’re a woman, roughly the same age as the protagonist. What did you think of her?

Test Reader #1:
I found her to be a pretty well-rounded character. She showed a lot of very diverse emotions that made her easy to relate with. She grew throughout the story and she also wasn’t a typical ‘damsel in distress’ type of female character. I also like that she wasn’t specifically described at all. It helped as a reader to imagine myself as her.

Oliver:
As we know, this story takes place over the course of 14 years. What are your thoughts on how the protagonist changes over that period of time?

TR#1:
I think that overall her outlook on life changes drastically. Things happen to her and she has to adapt to each of those situations so much that it becomes almost second nature to her. Her attitude also changes. You can plainly see the effect that the events in the story have on her, in many ways. Her life and way of living are changed many times, which affects her mentally as well. It’s interesting to see the changes she goes through each time.

Oliver:
At one point in time in the story, there’s a rather severe shift in gears and the tone changes in a major way. What did you think of this part?

TR#1:
It was nice to have that change. It helped keep everything fresh and provided a change in tone, as mentioned. As a reader, it kept me engaged because of that transition. It also gave more information on the state of the main character and where she was at at that point in time of her life. It showed her determination and also a little of how she was still human and could always learn new things.

Oliver:
Who was your favorite character throughout the narrative?

TR#1:
Honestly, I immediately loved Shurlock John. There was just something about his character that I was taken with.

Oliver:
And what character did you like the least?

TR#1:
There wasn’t really any characters that I disliked, but if I had to choose one that I could enjoy more I would have to say Ray. There was something about his character that I felt could be expanded on. However, I can’t think of what that would be.

Oliver:
What was something about the story that you really enjoyed, and wished there was more of?

TR#1:
I really enjoyed the part with Shurlock and I do think that it could be expanded a bit even. Any part of the story could have more added to it, in the right way, and it would add more information for the reader.

Oliver:
What was something about the story that you disliked, and wish there was less of?

TR#1:
I can only think that it could be made even longer. There’s nothing that I disliked enough, story-wise for there to be less of it.

Oliver:
For you, what was the most defining moment of the story?

TR#1:
I think it was probably when Shurlock John was talking about the coyote and dog. As the reader, I could instantly see what he meant. But she didn’t connect it to herself, because she was expecting something different. She didn’t realize the advice she was given. Very human.

Oliver:
What would you think of more stories, but not necessarily related to THIS story, taking place in this particular world?

TR#1:
It would be interesting to read. To see the different points of view, so to say, of others in that world. To have more stories involving that world and the people in it would help to make it feel more realistic and give more opportunities to learn more about the people and events that shape that place.

Oliver:
In your opinion, what do you think is the appropriate reading age for this story, and why?

TR#1:
I would say that it would be for adult readers simply because some of the language and the topics would be better understood by older readers.

Oliver:
And on the subject of gender, do you feel that this is a story that is appropriate for both men and women to read, and enjoy? Or do you feel it is more geared towards a specific gender? And why?

TR#1:
I think it can be enjoyed by readers of either gender. Just because a book has a main character that is female, it doesn’t mean that male readers can’t enjoy it as well. I don’t think that it’s geared towards a specific gender either. The topics aren’t on things to do with specifically male or female interests, so the reader can be male or female, easily.

Oliver:
Overall, how was the experience of reading this book different from other books you have read in the same genre?

TR#1:
The first major thing was that the time-frame was longer. Not a bad thing, but it was different than others. Also most that I have read have had male lead characters. The transitions between the years was unique in my experience and was refreshing.

Oliver:
And finally, are there any other thoughts you had about the story? Anything goes!

TR#1:
Nothing really other than I can’t wait to read the ending!

One comment

  1. Test readers are amazing. They’re patient, understanding, and utterly relentless when it comes to catching my errors, slips, and bullshit. The feedback is valuable beyond belief.

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