Throughout this week we will be discussing a variety of elements in prose writing and this topic is something which isn't just relevant to prose writers, but can be applied to all forms.
Imagine your piece of work is laid out on a stage for people to read. In the seats are the people who you want to read it- who are they? Can you see their faces, imagine their lives? Why have they been drawn to come see your work and read your story? What did you to to keep that audience sat down and interested in your work? Did you think about them when you wrote?
An audience is anyone who could potentially read your work. In writing, we talk about "target audience" and how understanding that audience can help shape the way you write. That intended audience could be specified by age, interests, personalities, cultural background, religion- anything! Of course you may gain readers outside of that target group, but considering your audience will involve your reader in the writing process.
But my audience is everyone!
Considering your reader can help with the decision making process of your writing. You're more likely to choose words based on that person's potential vocabulary, you may define your characters to act in a way your target audience could react to and connect to. You can challenge your reader, push them and have fun with them all through your writing.
If you don't have that audience in mind, your work may miss that element of connection and generalise your writing and might in the long run alienate your reader. The more real you make your reader, the more likely your success.
Some tips on considering audience in your writing:
- When you ASSUME you make an "ASS of U and Me". Don't make assumptions that your audience knows what you know, even if they are your peers. Do a bit of research into that target audience and find out more about them.
- Hook them from the start. We don't need a twelve page description of a vast and wide city that holds many dark alleyways and secrets governed by a tyrant who hates kids.
- Will this subject interest them? Be honest and consider your demographic- are 30 year old career women going to read about a boy who likes football stars? Be realistic about your aims.
- Put yourself in the reader's position. Try putting yourself into the mind of your reader and pretend you have no prior knowledge to your story. Is it clear? Are you feeling connected and engaged to the story?
- Don't forget about tone! If the story is for five year olds, don't write with a dark tones- consider your language choices, your pace, and voice.
- Ask yourself regularly "Who am I writing this for?" and keep re-iterating the point
Below I am going to give you some audiences! You have to give me in return a one sentence plot of a story or poem about what you could write for them. Ie.
"A group of middle class equestrian enthusiasts who read "horse riders weekly""
Answer: A poem about the grand national from the grand stand perspective
1. Boys who hate their parents and are happiest spending all night on call of duty.
2. Commuters who spend 30 mins on the train early morning and late evening.
3. Teenage girls who are into Science and engineering.
4. A retired lady who goes on several coach trips a year.
5. A hungover college student
6. A Chinese immigrant to the UK
7. Youths in juvenile detention facilities
8. Openly Gay and lesbian Party animals
9. People who list their religion as "Jedi" on the census
10. Four year old about to start school.
11. Parents of children with terminal illnesses
12. Middle Aged Shark Enthusiasts
13. Young women who love everything fake (nails, hair, bags etc)
15. A new dad-to-be
Feel free to add one on the end for others to play with your suggestion too!
So in conclusion; Audience is a big element to your writing. Keep your demographic in mind and think how that could shape and change the way you approach your work.