Writing Tip: Know Your Audience

image of medieval wood carving

Who is this for?

That question is asked frequently during critiques in my writer’s group.

It’s an important question, and I feel writers should always let it hover in the back of their minds when creating a story.

There’s a saying that “the first draft is for the author, the second for the editor, and the final for the reader”. While I feel there is truth to that, in some ways, a writer should always have an audience in mind. Even if that audience is just themselves.

What do I mean by that? Well, if you’re writing for practice or possibly therapeutic reasons and no one else will ever see it, then by all means just scribble away!

However, if your goal includes critique, publication, and eventually sale, you need to think about your target audience. I’m not telling you “write to market” because that is gross and sales-y and generally ineffective. I will tell you that it’s important to ask yourself some simple questions about who your story is for

  • What genre am I writing for?
    • If it’s a large one (like fantasy or romance) is it part of a sub-genre?
  • What age range is my audience? Kids, young adults, or grown ups?
  • Does it contain (and hopefully play with) specific genre tropes and expectations that my audience expects?
    • You know, like hobbits and stuff…
  • Does it contain themes, imagery, or subject matter that is either inappropriate or too complex for my audience?
    • My writing is full of gore and violence. I’m never going to be mistaken for a YA author.
  • If my story were on a shelf in a bookstore, who would pick it up?
    • “Everybody” isn’t an acceptable answer. Sorry.

If you’ve never given any thought to this, you may want to, since knowing your intended audience can help you shape your work in subtle ways that will help it appeal to them. That’s not to say you should compromise your creativity, but it’s been my experience as a writer and reader that the most successful projects set out with a clear message, and understanding of who they are meant for.

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13 thoughts on “Writing Tip: Know Your Audience

  1. Inspirememom says:

    Great tips and totally agree that having an audience in mind can be very helpful. It really does help you to post or write on a subject or idea that will benefit the reading audience. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • B.L. Daniels says:

      It’s been super helpful to have an audience in mind, especially for blogging, versus when I used to just kind of sit down and write whatever popped into my head at the moment. Thanks for reading, commenting, and following!

      Like

  2. HistorianRuby (Ruth) says:

    Hi, great post, most useful.
    I have a history blog so my audience is hopefully those interested in history. But I do write the occasional general tips on blogging/writing and they are done as an adjunct to the history posts. They are more motivated by requests for feedback and little errors that I see that I’d love to correct, but don’t want to offend. Those posts are very popular.

    Liked by 1 person

    • B.L. Daniels says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Ruth. For sure any blog needs to have some leeway to occasionally deviate in their content. Just like many writers create stories across genres. I think as long as there is a fundamental focus it increases the chances of finding and retaining an audience that will be engaged.

      Like

  3. floatinggold says:

    I find this to be a great issue of mine. Just like in life – I have a wide array of interests. Learning new things comes somewhat easily to me and I’m eager to try it. Then I realize that it’s hard for me to narrow my focus down to just one thing. I hate that. Forcing myself to laser-point is not something that comes with ease to me. Same with blogging. Putting myself in a neat box is just not my style. I totally get your point. It’s not good for me, but I can’t help it.

    Liked by 1 person

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