Writing for the audience of…me.

pixabay image compilation

pixabay image compilation

Days before Sunwielder first hit the press in 2014, my publisher emailed me a question. “Sunwielder has a little of everything: war, romance, love, friendship, violence, and humor. What audience did you write it for?”

Good question.

It’s a blessing she and I communicated by email, or she would have seen the clueless, dumb-ass look on my face, my mouth forming my snappy, cutting-edge reply, “Uh…Oops.”

Without a doubt, the inquiry got me thinking, and to be honest, it wasn’t the first time I’ve contemplated the idea of writing with an audience in mind. I suppose many authors do, and from a marketing perspective, having a target consumer in mind is…um…what’s the word…imperative?

But I can’t write that way, at least not intentionally. My stories feel more organic than that, coalescing in the puny nutshell of my brain and suddenly cracking open into consciousness. I can only write from the inside out, and therefore, I wonder, is the audience…me?

The answer in a way is “yes.” The stories and characters compel me to put them to paper; the themes invade the little globe of my life. They can’t help but reflect elements of my worldview, my real and imagined experiences, my despairs and hopes. If I consider this question logically, why would any artist put heart and soul into a work of art she or he didn’t like?

As a person entering the last third of life, I spend a portion of my idle minutes musing over past choices and the myriad shifts they prompted in the winding path of my own story. This sunny-afternoon, garden-gazing pondering definitely informed Sunwielder. Those who most “get” the book, it seems, share this stage of life with me and the accompanying tendency toward reflection. So, yeah, the audience is probably “yours truly.” Thankfully, I’m a fairly run-of-the-mill human being to which a few souls out there can relate.

So, why does Sunwielder have a little of everything? I suppose because that’s how I perceive the complexity and poignancy of an authentic life. What human life isn’t a conglomeration of different bits, a pie chart of multiple, disparate wedges forming a whole? Gryff Worden, the Sunwielder, needs to be relatable, and though the details of his story may differ from ours, I’d argue that the reality of the way choices sculpt his life is universal to us all.

Sunwielder will be reissued within the week as a self-published book. Stay tuned.

89 thoughts on “Writing for the audience of…me.

  1. Erik says:

    Oh, wow. I could go on and on here (but I won’t).

    First, you are hardly “run-of-the-mill.” Pish-posh. (I don’t know a single other author who writes as prolifically as you do, all the while maintaining a top-tier blog with such engagement.)

    Though my published work and blog are a different genre, the question of audience still comes up. I would say I do have an audience as far as voice (e.g., vocabulary, humorous asides, etc.), but not as far as topic or themes. And that audience is my inner circle of friends (which is, in essence, a reflection of myself and what I enjoy).

    I think structures are in place to keep average people roughly on track. For instance, I’ve never understood why schools insist on making kids learn the 5-paragraph essay structure: a construct that will never be used in successful real-world writing. But it’s to have a formula that A.) allows easy grading and B.) assures some sense of logic and flow for those who aren’t strong writers.

    You are a strong and creative writer by nature. And what hooked me to your star is that you don’t write like anyone else I’ve read. imagine telling A. A. Milne he couldn’t capitalize “like that,” or e. e. cummings that he must! Horrors!

    I say do what you do how you do it. And when the rest of the world asks “for whom?”, as needed (if ever, now that you’ve taken back your work) use your gift for words to B.S. the daylights out of ’em.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, Erik, that we should learn or, at least, be aware of the norms and rules regarding something we do (or attempt). But many of the ground-breakers are those who push on the borders of the box and follow their creative urges.

      I would argue that you have a strong and specific audience for your book and blog. Of course, you cast a wide net and engage with flair, but The Best Advice So Far does seem geared toward those interested in personal growth, empowerment, and helping others (including the helping fields). Your style makes it light and enjoyable, and in that way, makes it highly accessible. In terms of writing for an audience, I think you’ve mastered it 🙂 That should help quite a bit in targeting in terms of marketing.

      Thanks for the sweet compliments and of course for visiting and reading! Have a marvelous week, my friend, and I hope you’re feeling better with each day.

      Like

  2. Aquileana says:

    Great post… the creative process is mainly personal, also writing might be so… but editing and publishing have to keep in mind and maybe also to look after a potential audience… I would say then that anything is purely subjective…
    🙂 All the best to you!, Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the comment, Aquileana. That’s an interesting distinction between writing and editing, one more personal and the other more geared toward the audience. You make a good point. Thanks for adding to the discussion 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is something I have never thought about!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. tedgiffin says:

    When a Musician performs, he plays to the audience. When a Musician records his music, He is the Audience.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting perspective, Ted. I suppose the difference is the “live” factor. As writers, we create a fixed product and then we hand it off to the world. So, playing to the audience has to happen before there’s an audience if that makes sense. I used to do theater and it is amazing how dynamic performer/audience interaction is. I loved it. Thanks for commenting and have a great week 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • tedgiffin says:

        I am focusing on the recording aspects of music right now. I do not see a reason to perform, unless I am backing someone up live. Or If I can get enough people interested in what I currently do, people who want to play my stuff. I love the feeling tho, when you go onstage, and you KNOW that it is going to BE GOOD and IT IS!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Khaya Ronkainen says:

    This is true for me as well. I write for myself first, whether to amuse or purge. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s something to think about, I suppose, Khaya, but when it comes down to it, I think most of us write what is meaningful to us and what we enjoy. Thanks for the visit. Happy Writing!

      Like

  6. reocochran says:

    I just think of many books whose authors must not have had a formula; but satisfied their readers anyway, Diana! Let’s see, no happy endings in “Gone With the Wind,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “Love Story.” There were twists and turns in many books I have loved, too. Keep on doing what you enjoy reading, as I imagine most “real” authors do, telling stories that bear the test of time. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I feel this Diane. It connects with me. If you write a story you can enjoy over and over, then you are bound to find at least one individual who enjoys it as well. That’s why I write for me, and never think about the intended audience. After all, I write to stave off my own boredom. If I can help others fight it off as well, then mission accomplished.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t think I could write to an audience; it wouldn’t be fun to me, and it wouldn’t ring true. On the other hand, If my agent sells the novel (fingers crossed) and an acquiring editor wants me to write more into a particular element, I probably wouldn’t have a problem with that because, as you say, there are so many various pieces in the novel—emphasizing one won’t be that big of a deal.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m with you on that, Ellen. Fun is a bit part of writing since it’s so much work! And we definitely need to be willing to take feedback on our stories and make changes; it’s all part of the process that improves our books and makes us better writers. Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with Annika–who do we write for? I would think the genre determined that, but not quite true. Good luck on the republication!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jacqui. I suppose the secret might be to make sure our writing feels authentic (versus forced), which requires some degree of writing from the heart. Thanks for the visit and comment. Have a wonderful week 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So true, why should writers be placed in a box? Life isn’t one sided, it’s a smorgasbord! I totally fall in love with my characters and want others to do the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the visit and comment, Ellie. I think some publishers look for best-seller formula, if there is such a thing, but you’re right that there are so many different kinds of books and readers, and that’s part of the joy. 🙂 Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Sacha Black says:

    I so have this theory that we all stop ageing at some point before we are 30.

    I stopped at 16/17. I write stories I want to read. I guess I am just lucky that secretly I am still 16!! Cause it gives me an audience!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I must say I did have an audience in mind – children/YA but I didn’t have a typical storyline. In fact my novel explores many opposing aspects that intrigue me, namely light/darkness, represented by crystals/shadows, good/evil, art, beauty, mirrors, deception, a touch of sadness/humour, play acting, and not to forget Greek mythology! Quite a crazy mishmash! So in that I’m a bit like you!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Morgan M Byers says:

    https://uniqueharmoney.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/as-the-night/
    Please read I would love to know what you think

    Liked by 1 person

  14. dgkaye says:

    Great article Diana. There are many rules for writing it seems. But like the saying goes, ‘learn them so you can know how to break them’. Many marketing articles teach us to know our audience and write for them. But I am on the wagon with writing from my heart. I write the words I feel I need to write and then hope and know there are people out there my writing will resonate with. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. stephie5741 says:

    You know it’s interesting–and probably a topic I could write about somewhere. Marketing experts recommend creating “buyer personas” for your business. I would think it could be the same for fiction writers. Develop a “reader persona,” based on what you know about your current reader. What is your reader’s average day like? What else does she like to read? How did she find your book? Give her a name, an age, an occupation, etc. Then create a different persona for a different type of reader who reads your book. I think it probably could help!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

    Liked by 2 people

    • Interesting, Stephie. For marketing a book that’s a great idea. I can see how it would help with designing campaigns and targeting fantasy readers, etc. I don’t know if I could write/create that way, though, or would want to. The person would end up as a character! Ha ha. Thanks for giving me something to think about 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I believe that writing from your heart is a key ingredient and can be felt by the reader, it’s something that draws me in when I read. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Mick Canning says:

    I agree. I tend to write for me; it actually keeps me better focused, I think.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Sabiscuit says:

    Writing for yourself… That is why your stories are so intriguing. Someone with your amazing mind would not be intrigued by anything watered down. Best wishes. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, that’s a compliment to bring a smile! I think we all have stories inside us though not all of us decide to do this crazy writing thing. Part of the fun of blogging is getting to enjoy other writers’ imaginations. Have a wonderful creative weekend!

      Liked by 2 people

  19. You know what? (Yes you do.) Writing for yourself and from your heart to tell the story is way better than a “formulaic” story written for “an audience.” Ho hum on that, right? Keep doing what you are doing!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. When you write for everyone, you have a little of this and a little of that. Nothing wrong with it in my book. I enjoy writing my blog based on my book which allows me a great deal of freedom. We are humans and not categories. Write for yourself, for the enjoyment of writing. If others find it interesting along the way, it’s great. I don’t worry about my audience too much. They either like me or not or don’t know about me yet. Life is too short to be boxed into categories. So just keep writing for all of us. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Susanne says:

    I can only write what I’m interested in and I can only hope others will find it interesting. I suppose there’s a kind of talent and calculation in being able to craft for a specific market but it seems a cold-blooded, psychopathic approach to writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha ha ha. I don’t know if I’d go with psychopathic, but a bit calculating for sure. Certain genre’s have some expectations that a writer is wise to attend to, but fantasy is incredibly loose. I am free to write what I like. 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Susanne, and the laugh. Happy Writing.

      Liked by 4 people

  22. Kev says:

    Looking forward to Sunwielder 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Annika Perry says:

    Very true, Diana. I too started to try and work out who I was writing for…only to confound myself with my own question. You answer it so well here – for me! I think writers who try to force their work for one audience or another can then find their writing lose its authenticity and feel forced. An interesting and thought-provoking post which is relevant to all writers. Wishing you a lovely weekend. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the comment, Annika. I can only report what works for me, obviously, and I have difficulty with constraints (I was a tough teenager – ha ha).

      My protagonists tend to be a little older and my books a little longer, the violence on the gritty side, so in a way that defines audience. But I don’t think about it going in. There’s just a story to tell and I tell it. I’m glad you found my musing helpful! Have a wonderful weekend too 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  24. babbitman says:

    Funny, I thought you’d written Sunwielder for me! Love, war (including some epic battle-play that felt very well researched), duty, humility and the hook of the Sunwielder magic itself…
    I passed it on to Natalie, our youngest daughter (approaching 17 now) and she also liked it. I basically sold it to her as a ‘low-magic’ fantasy book with elements of the movies “Source Code” and “The Edge of Tomorrow” (which she loves). My wife also loves Stephen King’s 11.22.63 and eldest daughter is a big Doctor Who fan – there must be some familial resonance with time loops!
    🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Every book has its place on our shelves, it’s only the order we stack them in that varies.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Carrie Rubin says:

    I haven’t always written with the audience in mind either, but I’m trying to get more in tuned with that. Many readers go into a book knowing what they want. But it is nice to be able to write from a place of freedom.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fantasy has few guidelines, so it offers a great deal of freedom. But you’re right that certain genres have specific requirements or the book wouldn’t fall into the genre. So it makes sense in those cases to craft a book to the genre’s specifications. Would you say that characters and subplots are where the audience is further targeted?

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Frank says:

    I write out of frustration – with the world, with bookshops, with people’s attitudes…

    I used to love trawling through bookshops looking for something new and different, but more and more you would see whole shelves dedicated to this author or that, and books stuffed full of familiar tropes.

    Why does every heroine need a man by her side? Why are female vampires always shallow and evil? Why are tricky ethical questions always brushed quietly under the carpet?

    There are, of course, many good, intelligent books being published, but I got tired of walking out of bookshops feeling like the books I really wanted to read didn’t exist. So I write them myself – and hope that there are other people like me out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the comment, Frank. I agree about the stererotypes; it gets a little tiring after a while if there’s nothing fresh or no depth backing up the character’s personality. I think there’s room for all kinds of books because there are all kinds of readers. That said, like you, I write the books that move me personally and that I can relate to. Then I hope for the best 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  28. You can only write “from the inside out”. Well said, D. From the heart, and from personal experiences, both good and bad…it always works. 💘

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Nitin says:

    Yes -i can understand when you said that you write inside-out. I don’t know how ‘writing-for-audience’ works -will make the work more mechanical, i guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Elisabet says:

    Tolkien wrote for his children, I write for expression, audience never comes into play. But publishers always like to take the fun out of it! Great post, made me think!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly!! You summed it up perfectly. There’s pressure from publishers to produce “what’s hot.” Not that I would complain about a best seller, but I can’t write that way…and readers show us all the time that the trends aren’t the only way to go. Thanks for the comment, Elisabet. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

  31. Writing is an adventure for me, its where my heart takes me! But never published! Nice post.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I think it’s great that you are being true to yourself! Keep it up. Though there are many who believe in the writing formulas, that isn’t me. I have to be true to myself and I trust that there will be readers for what I write.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. herheadache says:

    Yes. This is me also.
    I can’t write most of the category genre fiction out there. I’ve never fallen into any real category so why would I think my writing would?
    🙂
    I think authenticity is becoming a rare thing these days, but if you look hard enough…

    Liked by 2 people

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