Whether you’re writing The Lord of the Rings or a collection of poems about zombie turnips, you need to think about who you writing for. When I’m taking to writers in schools my heart sinks if well-meaning teachers or librarians ask me ‘Who is your target audience for Spartapuss?’ I hate the phrase ‘target audience’. Perhaps it’s because ‘target audience’ makes me think of a writer with a crossbow or an RPG trying to take out his/her reader. I’m writing for them – not at them!
I’m a rotten shot with a crossbow and I believe that art should start with an unrehearsed pulse of inspiration – not a group to sell stuff to. So you’ll never find me writing for ‘urban 12-year old girls’ or ‘sports loving seven year-old boys’.
Don’t get me wrong – selling things is an amazing skill that takes years to do well. Writers need salespeople! We also need to learn how to be sales-people. We need to step up and be little less awkward about telling people about our work.
However, once you’ve imagined your new zombie turnip poem set or Potteresque seven book series, you do need to start thinking about your readers.
Here is a short check list…
1. Will the readers get your in-jokes?
2. Will they be able to understand what is going on when there are more than four people/cats talking in a scene?
3. Can the readers remember what has happened to the character when we last met them four chapters ago?
4. Is this scene taking too long to get to the point?
5. How will people feel when I kill off their favourite character?
6. Will those zombie turnip jokes funny in the cold light of tomorrow morning?
Thanks to the brilliant Jason Smith for the zombie turnip.