This week I happened across a new writing blog, How To Write Anything (Well), by Dana Sitar.
What led me there was a guest post she did for Joanna Penn’s, The Creative Penn, on tone and voice in writing. It was a good post, but an embedded link led me to one I found even more interesting–this post on understanding your audience.
In it, Dana recommends, rather than writing what you like and then identifying the reader who might enjoy it. you identify your ideal reader and then write what she wants to read,
How do you identify that reader? By filling in the blanks of this sentence (which is totally Dana’s and not mine and, seriously, go check out her blog):
As a [type of person], they want [some goal] so that [some reason].
I approached this writing gig backwards, the exact way Dana recommends NOT doing it. I wrote a couple of books I really enjoyed and now I’m trying to figure out who might want to read them. Since I am where I am, I figured it was worthwhile to go through this exercise.
As a bright and curious person, my reader wants a challenge or puzzle so that she gets the pleasure of figuring something out.
This suggests people who enjoy reading mysteries are a crossover possibility.
I really love books challenge me in some way, but the books that I keep thinking about after I’m done reading are the ones with great characters–those books that you’re bummed to finish because you hate saying goodbye to the people you’ve met. The reason series do so well is because series books give us a chance to hang out with our new friends again and again.
That made me realize I was only looking at Dana’s question from a plot perspective. The perspective of character(s) is also important.
As a lover of romance, my reader wants characters she can identify with and root for, so that she feels good when they prevail against overwhelming odds.
Finally, I linked back to the original post on The Creative Penn, about voice and tone. What kind of tone does my ideal reader look for in a book?
As someone who’s more Cassandra than Pollyanna, she wants a humorous but slightly dark tone, so that she sees her worldview validated.
As I tailor my advertising and blurb going forward, I’m going to keep this ideal reader in mind.