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Borrow a friend's child for the day.

Think you know how your subject matter really thinks? Consider yourself an expert in children’s speech patterns and interests? Unless you work with children on a daily basis or live in captivity with some of your own, you probably don’t know how their sinister little minds really work — and you may not be as good at picking up on how they talk as you could be.

Do your writing a favor and make some grateful parent or guardian (very) happy at the same time: Borrow a child for the day to test your theories. Don’t just take the kid to a movie, where conversation will be minimal. Take him to a museum, a park, a meal — or all of the above. Engage the child’s senses. Then observe and listen.

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