Sunday, August 26, 2012

Know Thy Audience

As with public speaking, if your audience matters to you then your message with matter to them....

Know Thy Audience

With writing, I always tell my students to remember to whom they are writing. Who is their audience? If they are writing a letter to the Principal about no more school uniforms, well, it's probably not a good idea to use slang or texting language.

We writers would be wise to know to whom we are writing as well. My current audience is middle grade kids of all walks of life. I have to remember what it is they are currently reading, watching, listening to, and discussing.

I am fortunate in that I teach a bunch of middle graders, but what if my audience was adult women or college age women?

How to Know Thy Audience

Research is the best way and I don't mean an internet search.

Spend time around your target audience. Listen to how they speak and ask about what interests them. Got that?

Ask them questions.  And listen to the answers.

Why Do We Need to Know?

If you want your readers to pick up your book and read it, then pay attention to your readers. Write to and for them. What other books are out there for your target audience?

Just because my audience devours J.K. Rowling doesn't mean I have to now write books about a boy wizard. But I can ask my audience what it is about the Harry Potter books that they like so much. Or take Rick Riordin books. Just because they like those books doesn't mean I have to write his genre or story line.

I can still be original...or as original as I can be.

I can still listen to my audience and read what they're reading for research purposes.

And it works!

Know Thy Audience

So, keep this in mind. Write for yourself. Write the story you would like to read.

But keep your audience in mind. Would they turn the page of your current W.I.P.?  Will they be enthralled from the start?

Someone who recently read my book, The Dragon Forest,  told me she stayed up until 2am just to finish a scene because she couldn't put the book down. Music to my ears!

Writing isn't easy, but writing to someone can help. Picturing them as you write will keep you focused.

As with public speaking...look them in the eye. Show them that you did your homework and you are not going to waste their time.

Make them matter to you and your message...your book...will matter to them.

Your turn:  How do you keep your audience in mind when you write? Does it work?



  1. Oh yeah, I think we have to keep our audience in mind! To me, writing a well-craft book is way too much work to do just for myself. Haha! :) Some ways I keep my audience in mind: Look at other books my audience reads and see where they connect with people, think to myself, "Would I want to read this? Would I keep turning the page?", having a critique partner and close-knit group of writer friends who can serve as an initial audience--and let me know if I'm doing my job in serving the reader. :)

    1. Exactly Melissa! We writers would be wise to remember our readers. They are our customers! Thanks for visiting!

  2. Great post, Ruth! Remembering audience is definitely crucial! My audience is women aged 20-50s who like women's fiction and a little romance on the side. It helps that I fall within that category!

    1. So true Linds! You know what they're looking maybe give them what they want with a twist?? ;)