Sunday, December 5, 2010

Writing for an Audience

The main difference between writing for yourself and an audience is well... your ego.

I'm not saying don't like what you write. I mean, we all want to savor the words on the page.

I am saying though, EVEN if we like what we write, if it isn't resonating with your Beta readers, we need to rewrite.

If you are writing to sell, the page is not the place to have a therapy session and exercise your demons. It is a place to entertain.

But, but, but... you say... you told us to dig deep into our personal experiences and put as much of ourselves and our flaws into our work.

Why, yes I did. And I meant it. However when I give advice about using external research or experiences, I always mean for you to put all that information through your Hero's filter.

There is no way your Hero feels exactly the same way you felt after the experience you had. If they do, then you are really writing an autobiography, not fiction.

So even if you have your Hero go through a hold up at a diner, your Hero can be INFORMED by your own experience as a robbery victim, however the words on the page should be about your Hero, not you.

Once you put your ego aside and really roll up your sleeves to write your Hero's story and let that their journey go where it needs to go, even if it was EXACTLY the opposite of what you experienced yourself under the same condition, you are on your first huge step to writing for an audience.

We talk a lot about structure, the Hero's journey, pacing and scene setting. But why? I mean besides the fact we want to grow our craft?

It is because we want the reader to ENJOY reading our work. We don't want them to skim. We don't want them to have to go back and read something over again to understand it (unless of course you just blew their mind with a paradigm shift).

Now you can guess at what the reader's experience is going to be and hope you get it right, or you can understand the modern reader. You can get inside their head and know what their hopes, dreams and expectations are as they read.

Because if you have a good idea of what they want... you have a great chance of fulfilling it!

And a fulfilled, satisfied reader creates a loyal reader. One who will buy your next book. One who will leave good reviews. One who will spread word of mouth. And for an author there is nothing so coveted!

We discussed all of this in-depth on my radio show this past Saturday at 2pm PST.

If you have any questions about this subject or any other, call in to have them answered LIVE! Or if you feel too shy, just submit your questions on my Twitter stream @writingnodrama!

Also don't forget to contact me on Twitter @writingnodrama if you would live any of your work performed by our resident MFA actor Ben Hopkin then critiqued on-air!

Remember you can also subscribe to my show through iTunes and listen to it on your iPod, computer or Mp3 player!

"Talk" to you Saturday 2pm PST!


  1. I think I am the queen of the rewrite. 1st time I think I wrote out the demons. 2nd time I wrote a story that started WAY too soon and the 3rd time, thanks to this blog, your radio show and my fab beta readers (I love them) it is going well. You hit the nail on the head with this one. Check out her radio show!!

  2. "We talk a lot about structure, the Hero's journey, pacing and scene setting. But why?" Because that's the way stories are framed! See and the associated video site