Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Who Are The Stories For?

Writers constantly struggle with a fundamental element of writing - who are the stories for?  Do you write them for yourself, or do you write them with an audience in mind?  Prior to putting anything on paper, you need to answer this question, for it will have a great deal of impact on your style, your tone, and even your storyline.

I chose a long time ago to write stories for me.  I did this because I'm not psychic.  In fact, I've discovered that my insight into other people's likes and dislikes is surprisingly small.  Perhaps someone more in tune with others and their thoughts can write something specifically tailored to an audience apart from themselves, but I can't.

So I write what I would enjoy reading.  If an idea intrigues me, I play around with it.  Sometimes it yields a great story, and sometimes it just withers.  However, it's always a story that I would be interested in.

Doing this means accepting that some of the people you thought would like your story just won't.  Advertisers spend years in school and training trying to divine what an audience or market wants.  Despite my degree in business, I'm not very good at this.  People are remarkably unpredictable, and my trying to figure them out so that I can write specifically towards them would be like my trying to put together a nuclear reactor made from Lincoln Logs.

That said, my reading tastes haven't strayed too far from the "normal" track of what most people read.  My biggest flaw is that I often find a lot of book to be too dumbed down for my taste.  This gets reflected in my writing through my attempts to be subtle and leave more to the imagination of the reader than others might.  Of course, this means that I have to think during my editing process, "Are people really going to think this is clever, or will they wonder why I left out so much?"

I think writing for yourself is the way to go because you can best enjoy writing that way.  Others may disagree and write to certain groups, but I'm not one of them.  If doing the latter is your strength, then go for it.  As for me, I know what I can and can't do, so I write what I would like to read.  How about you?

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