Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guiding Principle the Fifth


I am acquainted with an author who wants to write a novel for young adults. So this individual writes novels with young adults in them. The problem? They're not young adult novels. A teenage character in a book does not automatically equal a young adult novel. The above-mentioned author, however, doesn't realize this, because the above-mentioned author has never read an actual young adult novel.

Which is a problem. OBVIOUSLY.

You have to know who your audience is--what they like, what they expect, what they'll tolerate and what they won't. And then you write for that audience.

Sometimes it helps to write to a single person. I always write my columns for my brother Jimmy. I try to make him laugh. I figure if he laughs, someone else out there might laugh, too. My colleague (such a fancy word!) Robert Kirby at the Trib has said he likes to write columns for his mother-in-law because she was (God rest her soul) easy to offend. And sometimes he likes to (surprise!) get a rise out of folks.

The point is--know who your audience is, know how you want them to respond, and go for it.


James said...

I love your column's and blogs. I laugh when I am supposed to laugh, and I cry (somewhat manly tears) when I am supposed to cry. I have really enjoyed your Guiding Principles series. Although I am not a writer, I think the principles extend to other professions as well. Thanks for sharing.

Louise Plummer said...

Oh my yes.

Emily said...

I like the idea of writing to a single person. It might be easier than targeting a larger section of the population. And, obviously, it works (well, at least in your column case).

Love this series. Still note-taking

Lisa B. said...

I think my audience is actually several fragments of audiences--probably appropriate for poetry. But I actually never stop thinking of them...sometimes to my detriment, I think. I wonder, is poetry a different kettle of fish altogether?