It was written in first person point of view, and the main character was a nine-year-old boy. Here is a sentence from the opening paragraph.
My ears picked up an unfamiliar sound. Dropping the cookie I slid off the bar stool.
Does that sound like a nine-year-old talking? I don’t think so. However, the dialogue in this story, whether talking to friends, to parents, to teachers, was spot-on adolescent.
When I sent the rejection letter to the author, I pointed out that the first-person voice in a story must sound exactly as the narrator would sound in his dialogue. Otherwise the reader will wonder who is doing the talking. In this case, it was clearly the author’s voice coming through loud and clear. That wouldn’t have been a problem had the narrative been in third person point-of-view.
So take a look at your last bit of writing. If you’re in first person voice, does your narrative sound the same as your character’s dialogue? If not, why? If your main character is not an actress, an undercover agent, a schizophrenic, or in our example, an old person who has taken over a child's body, you have some explaining to do to the reader.
Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, writer, editor, artist, and Special Projects Coordinator for Little Pickle Press. You may find her at Facebook and at Twitter.