It's a well-known fact in my circle of friends that I'm a writer. What I write, no one really knows ("Teen fiction," I tell them, "mostly about princesses."), but they know that writing is my passion. And so it has happened that the younger sister (10 years old?) of a friend has given me a piece of her writing to look over (possibly at the urging of her mother, but we're going to overlook that).

It's quite good. And rather eerie, because her mistakes are similar to mine when I began writing (no paragraph switches for dialogue). It's almost like reading my own work, except that I wasn't writing that early, and my imagination was nowhere that unique (I'm rather jealous of some of her ideas, actually).

But now I'm not quite sure what to say. Part of me is ready to critique just as I would anything else, bookended with good-bad-good, but I'm not sure what I was asked to do except read it. Part of me wants to dumb down my response for a ten year old, but that would be patronizing considering her intellect and huge vocabulary. I want to get with her and go over it together, showing her about paragraphs and the commas involved in dialogue tags (because no one taught me), but how involved, really, does she want me to be? Would that be kind of me? (I have so much I could tell/teach her!) Or presumptuous?

I'm still trying to figure out what I would have wanted when I began writing (at age 11) in the event that I had given my writing to some writing person. But I'll ask you: Looking back, what sort of response would you have wanted from a writer who had read your early work? Advice? Critique? "Keep up the good work"? A pat on the back? A face-to-face meeting that went through your writing line-by-line?

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