Writing Tests

Jake Parker "A Fireside Story"

Jake Parker “A Fireside Story”

A while back I talked about one of the questions I ask myself to make sure I’m on the right track, and that’s the Doctor McCoy test. 

Sometimes I think about another one, though, and that’s the “Grandparent at the Fireside” test. The idea is that the grandparent is at the fireside telling a story. As he or she is telling the story, there will be questions from young listeners. Sometimes, of course, young listeners have an agenda or want to take over the story, so for the sake of the test I pretend that the questions are coming from an intelligent listener. 

So as I’m thinking about myself being that grand parent, I question whether there would be legitimate questions about the clarity. “Which fellow was that again, Grandpa?” or “What did the tomb look like?” or “How big was that monster?”

If I think about a tale in that way I tend to anticipate the crucial elements just a little better so that my readers don’t have unanswered questions about what’s going on or what it looks like.