Writing Corner: Your Audience

There are two parts to the writing experience: the reader and the writer. If it is something like a diary that you are not going to show anyone, then you are both the reader and the writer. But there are always both.

The people who you would like to read your story are your audience. I’m going to look at this in two different ways, in general and specifically.

Your General Audience

Your general audience is the type of person you would like to read your story. Sometimes we use the word demographic for this. They are a certain age, live in a certain place, have certain experiences. If you don’t think about this, your general audience will probably be people like you: after all, you are the person you know best and people like you are your default. That’s fine, of course. It’s your story.

Here are a few questions you can ask to determine your audience:

1. How old are your characters?

This is not going to be exact, but usually the characters of the story should usually be about the same age as the audience. This is because they will be more relatable to people of the same age. This is why kids books often have kids doing wildly unrealistic things like solving mysteries and going to space. It might be interesting for a 10-year-old girl to read a book about astronauts, but it would be even more interesting to read about a 10-year-old girl who was an astronaut. Then she can relate more to the character.

This is not to say that we can’t enjoy books about people of other ages. I can read Harry Potter and enjoy it quite a bit. However, it’s clear that the target audience is teenagers and while I’m not a teenager now, I can still remember back in the far reaches of time when I was teenager and so can relate.

2. How are you publishing the story?

By publish, I just mean “putting it out for people to read.” If it is on a blog or online magazine, it will be read by people who read blogs and online magazines. If it will be in the school magazine, then it will be read by students and maybe parents and teachers. If you are writing a book for children, it would be best to make a print book since that is how they are going to read it. Another way might be to make videos of you reading the stories since kids will watch videos more than read blogs.

3. What are the themes of the story?

Most themes are fairly universal, but there are certain ones that fit more for certain audiences. For example:

Young children

  • Exploring the world
  • Making friends
  • Getting along with sisters and brothers

Teenagers

  • Falling in love
  • Going through puberty
  • Making friends
  • Finding out who they are

Adults

  • Falling in love
  • Issues with spouse and kids
  • Parents getting older
  • Issues with jobs and careers
  • Medical problems

Your Specific Audience

Writers often write for one specific person or for a group of people. For instance, I often write for people in my family, either explicitly, like when I wrote books for my nieces and nephews, or just have them in mind when I write and try to think of what they would like to read. This is useful since it lets you focus on a specific person.

“I wrote all these for you. You have to read them.”

Ultimately though, I think that you should always write for yourself. That sounds selfish, but what I mean by that is that you should always write stories that you enjoy reading. There are two reasons for this. First, you are going to be spending more time with the story than any reader, both in the writing and editing process. It’s important you enjoy the story that you are working with or the process will not be that pleasant. I don’t particularly enjoy historical romance stories, but if I was going to write one, I would have to make it something I did enjoy reading.

The second reason is because if you like reading the story, then probably other people will too: it will probably be better writing than something you don’t really like but think that other people will enjoy. Writing is partially about putting a piece of yourself on the page, and it is difficult and pointless to try to fake that.

When you write, do you always write for a certain audience or do you write for different ones? Is there a specific person you write for? Let me know in the comments.

If you have any questions about writing or other topics you want me to talk about in Writing Corner, just send me an email at info@greenwalledtreehouse.com.

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