Tag Archives: Writing and Editing

Bulls-eye: Knowing Your Target Audience

10 Jun

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.

DOH…

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.

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Making Friends With Your Writer’s Block

11 May

We have all struggled with Writer’s Block. The times when you know you need to be writing or you should be writing but you sit and you stare at the nothing on the page. It’s frustrating and scary.
I know that you had to have heard all kinds of advice on getting past, or through, writer’s block. And to some degree, I’ve tried almost all of them. To some degree, most have gotten me through some tough spots. But, in reality, I’ve found one that seems to work very well for me.
I’ve made my Writer’s Block into its own character. He doesn’t have a place in any book that I am working on, although that has even crossed my mind. Rather than looking on him as an adversary, I’ve embraced him; given him a voice.
Draco Imaginaria (thanks goes to Google Translate, it is Latin for Imaginary Dragon) is a lavender dragon with random multicolored scales scattered around his diminutive frame who is ageless, wears thick glasses, and is sometimes friendly and sometimes confrontational. He has been bullied (he IS a lavender dragon who wears glasses) much of his life. He’s pretty good at typing, despite being a dragon.
Whenever I find myself unable to get going with writing when I know I need to be getting words on the page, I open a text editor and pretend that it is a chat window. I talk to Draco and I think about the things that he might (or might not) say to me. When he is silent, sometimes I just type obscenities at him. He doesn’t judge. I don’t have to worry about sentences or even real words. And he doesn’t hold it against me later. He just eats the obscenities and adds them to his lexicon. He lives on words. That’s where my words go when I can’t find them to make up the work that I need to be doing. He has eaten them: all of them. If I feed him enough (because maybe I hadn’t been feeling him sufficiently lately so he is stealing them from my mind) or I feed him the words that he is hungry for, the words I’m looking for begin to flow naturally again. When he is argumentative, I argue back. Sometimes I win, sometimes he wins, but in the end, because he is mine, we both win.
Sometimes I talk to him when I’m angry or when I’m trying to puzzle through a plot line or a poem. Not really because I’ve actually hit writer’s block, but because I’ve come to respect his opinion on things. He is, after all, my own voice (I’m creative, not necessarily crazy). Sometimes all it really takes is not thinking about what I’m “supposed to be” thinking about to trigger what I need to have triggered. And I’ve managed to actually put in some writing time.
I always save these conversations, which is why I carry them out in a text editor, so I CAN save them. Later, I can go back over them and maybe use pieces and parts of the conversation as ideas for other work or dialog in something I’m working on.
It isn’t always about using the tools that other people have found work for them. Sometimes it is about embracing your own tools and making them work for you.
So tell me, what is your Writer’s Block’s name? Is he a cat or is she a unicorn? Describe him, make her come to life. Embrace the silly and the unusual and see if maybe you can’t make your writer’s block work for you!

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