Consider your audience – one of the rules of writing I teach my students every semester, and it’s not one to learn and ignore when I get home from class and return to fiction. My latest completed novel (as yet unpublished) FATAL ERRORS is full of geekiness. It’s a balancing act adding enough tech details to be authentic without bogging down any Luddites who may stumble upon a good mystery novel unawares. Fortunately, a gentleman in my long-time writers’ group tells me he can follow along in that manuscript and enjoy the story just fine even though his computer knowledge is limited.
I have more difficulty when I write a story on the fly, with no definitive audience in mind. In those cases, I follow the advice of a recent workshop (which quoted Toni Morrison) and write for one person: myself. “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” FATAL ERRORS is, quite unintentionally, my rebellion against The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: a young-ish female hacker takes on social injustices – and that’s where the similarities end. I enjoyed much of Larsson’s techno-geek story, but the over-the-top (and in my mind, gratuitous) sexual violence guaranteed I won’t read the other two books in his trilogy. My reaction to on-page gore is a topic for another day (and from this post in my archives).
Social media pundits insist I also need to consider audience when I blog. Give the breadth of the Internet and variety of potential readers, that seems like an impossible task. I started blogging six (seven?) years ago for me, as an exercise in regular production on a deadline. I don’t like journaling, so the newfangled blog product seemed like a good option. My output has morphed over the years from rants and raves to family news to philosophical musings. I posted some of the essays I wrote in grad school. Often my wanderings return to the craft of writing. But I can’t say my “audience” has ever been clearly defined, or identified.
That group includes many writers, of course, given my circles of contact, and with the release of FORTY & OUT, I’ve likely picked up some general readers as well. Will my writing oriented discussions bore them? Will generic topics keep the interest of busy writers who are more interested in establishing/maintaining their careers rather than in my ramblings on life, the universe, and everything?
I have no answers to those questions, so I’m back to where I began: writing for me.
I hope you find something in my posts that encourages you to join my journey. Who knows where we’ll end up?
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