We write stories in a certain genre. We have a connection with a particular audience. Our readers are thought to be of a specific type, age range, nationality or any other aspect we deem we are writing our story to, or for.
When writing the drafts, however, we shouldn’t focus on our target readers nor our base audience. Instead, there is one particular person you should be writing for, or telling your story to.
Surprise: it isn’t for YOU. Who is it you should be writing for? Let’s find out.
Who Are We Writing For, Exactly?
Authors, like any other artists, work their craft, hone their skills and churn out words for a single reason: we love to do it. It is almost a calling, a pull, or a desire. Most of the time we don’t even think about who will read our words, nor do we often care. We write because we were born to write.
If you are just starting out or taking the next step in your writing career, it may become overwhelming to not have an audience just yet. You may find yourself (and your work) flailing, faltering or even feel the urge to just give up.
No matter what we try, the words just seem pointless, we have no one to tell our story to. In these instances, even the most die-hard writers will have doubts. It there a solution? You bet your ass there is.
Writing For A Single Person
For a lot of writers the answer to the question “who do you write for?” is often “I write for myself because I love it.” Or something similar along those lines.
The problem is that this answer is true, but it doesn’t help us. When we are writing out our story we are basically telling our story to anyone that chooses to read it. Once in a while, our words will come slower, or not at all.
While it is technically a form of writer’s block, the true culprit is ourselves. We get in this slump and we lose sight of the project, and why we do it.
To overcome this, we need to forget our target audience, we need to forget about writing because we love it and we need to just sit down and tell our story to someone, anyone. But who?
The answer is to sit down and tell your story to a single person. Make up the person if you have to. Use a departed relative or the main character from your book. If you want the best reaction, though, this imaginary person will be a woman.
That’s right, no matter who your target audience is in the long run, right now, you should write for a woman.
Why Tell Your Story to A Woman?
This isn’t a sexist thing, it isn’t a macho thing, it is a psychological thing. Women around the globe purchase and read more books than men. King, Koontz, Connelly, Martin and Patterson all write “manly” stories, and all of them have a higher female readership than male. In some cases, it is as high as 7 to 1! Write for a woman!
As a writer, if we tell our story aloud, we have a slightly different take on it than when we put words on paper. We tend to be more concise, more direct and more thorough without a lot of fluff and filler.
When you get stuck on your project or are just starting one, it is a good idea to sit at your table and pretend there is a woman (ideally in her mid to late ’30s) sitting across from you. Talk to her. Tell her your tale and tell it like you mean it.
The better you are at this pretend game, the better your finished project will be. Guys like facts. If you tell your story to a man, you better be exact. if you mention that the Ford 351 Windsor has a firing order of 1-3-7-2-5-6-8-4, you’d be wrong (it’s actually 1-3-7-2-6-5-4-8) and in being wrong you will lose a lot of male readers, they will no longer be able to trust you.
Women, on the other hand, are more forgiving of these random facts and are more interested in the story itself. This doesn’t mean you can make up shit just to get your words read, but the underlying story is far more important.
While getting the firing order wrong will still lose some women readers, it won’t lose as many. They will more likely forgive you and keep reading.
Write for a Woman And You Will Succeed
If you get stuck, are starting a new project and aren’t sure how well you are doing, or where to go; sit down with your imaginary fan and start talking.
Tell her the story, out loud. Listen to the way you tell her, react to the words you use and the way you unfold your tale for her.
In the end, your story will be much better off and will have a better flow. Write for a woman and the final version will be worthy of any reader, male or female, and you will only have an invisible fan to thank for it.