Hi, My name is April. I’m a writer who is guilty of writing without a target. I don’t know if you are guilty, too, but I’m guessing at least some people reading this are. I’ve almost always written because I’ve got something running around in my head that needs to escape. I guess I’ve always kind of assumed that whoever needed to read it would either find it or stumble on it accidentally.
I was reading, this week, several different blog posts and a couple of book chapters, all of which reminded me what we were taught in high school English class… remember your reader… remember your target audience or your perfect reader. Picture your perfect reader, the one you are writing to and it will make the writing sound more like a story you are unwinding and less like you are spinning out of control.
As I read, this week, and worked through who I’m writing to this week, I connected better to myself and connected better to the story I am unwinding in my mind. I’ve decided on several projects that I need to work on and I know that I have different audiences for each one.
It is not to say that you write to what you think that audience wants, then all you are really doing is pumping out stories that don’t have the ring of authenticity. That isn’t any better than just taking off on your mind trip without any companion in mind. It is more to say that you want to have in your mind the person who you believe is sitting in the passenger seat of your automobile in your mind, the one you are traveling in as you unravel your tail.
How old are they, or how old do you think they are? The life experiences of a 45 – 55 year old are incredibly different from the life experiences of a twenty year old. How you tell your story is likely going to be different based on who you are talking to.
What is their education level and/or their socioeconomic background? It may well be that your story will fascinate people across the spectrum, but if you write for someone whose vocabulary is that of a neonatologist, you may find yourself losing the people who would treasure your stories if they had a more conversational vocabulary.
Where were they raised? You don’t have to know that they were raised in Intercourse, PA specifically to think that they are probably from a small to mid-sized town and will understand the reference of a small town and you can freely talk about dirt roads and sink holes where the ideal reader might not be from inner city LA necessarily if that is the language you write in. You can’t possibly hope to write for or make happy everyone from everywhere.
What are their core values? Are you going to offend them if you swear?
This blog has a fascinating list of questions that can help you narrow down your target. As a result of my thinking through who is in my adventure with me, sitting in the passenger seat of my peti-cab through the fertile fields of my imagination, I have a picture of my companion, and I am writing now for that person. I really hope she likes the trip we are going on together.