Testing the Story

The other day I was invited to one of our local high schools. Their wonderful counselor, principal and English teachers allowed me to meet with a group of freshman and sophomores.


Castle Hanstein's dungeon within the ruins near Bornhagen, Germany
Castle Hanstein’s Dungeon

Find volunteers willing to test-read the first fifty pages of The EarthRider Chronicles. After all, this is the market I’m writing for and there is no better feedback than from a group of young adults. To introduce the story, I decided on attempting to explain what goes on in a writer’s brain, how protagonist, setting and plot are developed. (We didn’t go into the importance of evil antagonists.) It is honestly a mystery to me how words bubble from the abyss of my thoughts, how they can flow onto the page and shape themselves into a story.

Upon arrival I found couples of sophomores dance merengue to a peppy Latin tune—teachers included. What a great way to learn something fun and useful. Their future partners will love them for knowing how to dance. After rearranging the classroom, hooking up laptops —all students use them in class—I told the group of fresh-faced sophomores about how the story of Max Nerds was born:

Castle Hanstein ruins near Bornhagen, Germany
Castle Hanstein, Germany – Inner Courtyard

raising two gamer boys, discovering the ruins of Castle Hanstein, and finding the historical connection, including charismatic Knight Werner von Hanstein and his love for a beautiful lady. Several students correctly guessed that the moss-covered hole on one of the photos was the dungeon.

Even more amazing, two young men knew why staircases in castles are always built clockwise. Just in case you wonder, it allowed the defending lord descending the stairs to wield his right sword hand freely while the ascending attacker was hindered by the narrowed steps on the right.

I’m super excited to have found 30 young editors all at once. I can’t wait to hear their input.