When writing for younger readers, feedback from beta readers, agents and editors may include comments such as these:
“The voice reads too young for the MC age.”
“The voice sounds too adult.”
“The voice sometimes sounds too young.”
“The voice weaves between the appropriate age and that of an adult.”
“While the voice is spot-on for the age, I didn’t care for it.”
“Whatever else you change, do not revise the voice. It’s terrific.”
“The voice is stilted and unnatural.”
“The voice has a natural flow that kids will relate to.”
One of my novels got all of the above before it was published. Yup, since I have only one published to date, it’s not a mystery which book it is.
What to do? When personal feedback shows no consistency and is even directly contradictory, I think of it as honest, well intentioned, but subjective. There is nothing I have to do, because if I were to take it to heart I would get an incoherent stew as I attempt to revise.
Here is when feedback makes me spring to action:
*When it instantly resonates
**When it repeats from different readers
Getting the voice to hit the right note of authenticity for the age is a challenge those who write for their own age do not have to worry about. Getting feedback from younger readers is also good, but keep in mind— each is still an individual.
We who write for children must keep the reader’s age in front of us always.