The question of audience is not one that often arises as a writer writes. At least, it doesn’t for me. Because I tend to write fairly intuitive first drafts, I’m not consciously thinking about who I am writing to as I write. If I did stop to think about it, I’d probably freeze up and not be able to write another word.
But this topic has lately been of interest to me because of the book I’m ghostwriting. I’m the second writer on this project, and I came in when four chapters had already been written. The people I’m writing for had a sneaking feeling that something just wasn’t quite right in these chapters, and asked me to critique them.
They were right–it was a little off. It wasn’t that the writing was bad, particularly, it was just that the tone was wrong. Instead of sounding like writing for midlife adults, it came off sounding like a book for teenagers. And then, because she got the audience wrong, the words sounded patronizing and simplistic.
So figuring out who you write for is vitally important, particularly in non-fiction. If you are freelancing for magazines, for instance, they are going to want you to understand their demographic and write to it. More magazine is written for women over 40, whereas Glamour’s audience is in their 20s. Very different demographics, which will require a different tone.
Figuring out your demographic is not so important in fiction, unless you’re writing genre, and then you have to follow certain dictates that your audience will expect. I’ve heard some novelists say that they have a certain audience in mind and they are aware of this as they write, but I’m just not wired that way.
Maybe it is because I get my fill of writing for a certain audience when writing non-fiction and books for ghost writing clients. Actually, I am remembering one ghost writing project that I had a difficult time with and a huge reason was that I couldn’t imagine who was going to what to read it.
But then, they may have just been me…..
On an unrelated note, I’m getting great comment on the survey and contest I’m running. If you’ve not participated, go check it out. Here’s the link: