Here is the final installment of my posts on what I wish I had known as a beginning writer. You can read the other installments by beginning here, then part 2, part 3, part 4.This one is a little different than the others. It doesn’t have to do with writing techniques specifically. This is something you may not think about in your writing at all. As a writer, you need to:
5. Figure out your audience
One of the major things that you need to figure out when you are writing is who you are writing for. This is your intended audience. Are you writing primarily for readers of science fiction or romance? You need to write with those readers in mind. For instance in general, science fiction should have some element of the fantastic that is futuristic or involves technology at least. For a general romance, you need to make sure you have a couple that will fall in love gradually throughout the book. Yes, I am painting with a broad brush here but I hope you get the point. With that being said, there are rules you must follow to provide your readers with the enjoyment they expect from your genre.
If you, as a writer, fail to follow the genre rules, you will lose your readers. Think about mysteries for a moment. Mystery readers expect, well a mystery. Readers must, and this is important, be able to figure out the puzzle either right before or at the same time as the main character. Writers must follow rules and share the clues with the audience. If they don’t and the mystery is unsolvable, you will have unsatisfied readers.
Recently, my wife and I were watching a mystery themed television show. Right on cue, there was a murder, the detectives show and they collect clues. Soon they were doing interviews and the story was moving right along. The net was getting tighter as certain clues were reevaluated and suspects were accused and released. I usually have some sort of idea as to who the murder is because, let’s face it, there is a typical flow that many mystery shows follow. With this one, I had no idea. I felt left out.
Well, when it came to the reveal at the end, it was not who I expected. The murder was a random character that was introduced at the beginning of the episode and then shuffled off screen. Viewers were given no clues that she was involved and as a viewer I felt cheated. Now, this particular instance will not make me stop watching the show, but if it continues, I may stop watching.
For those interested, the show is Castle. I am a big fan, not only because of the writing but because the main character is a writer. The writers of the episodes usually play fair with the audience and my wife and I always place accusations during the episode of who the murderer is. Most of the time we are right, but with this one recent episode, we were unfortunately way off. When the credits rolled, we both felt unsatisfied. Personally, I wasn’t as gung-ho to watch the next episode the next week. Although I will.
Now, if you do not write genre fiction there may not be many specific rules to follow. One thing you can do is pick a single person you would hope would love your writing. If only one person was going to read your work, it would be this person. Some people write for themselves and are pleased with not sharing a single word with others. Others want the world to read their work and enjoy it. So I say find that person but be sure you choose the right person as your intended reader. Think about how they would react to certain scenes. Would they be excited, would they feel cheated? These are important to figure out. Have this person in mind as you write. Then when you write, write your story as a love letter to their imagination.
I hope you enjoyed this series. I know I enjoyed writing it. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject or maybe something you would like to read about. Thanks for coming along with me.