So far, an awful lot of the Tactless Tuesday content, and indeed one of the major themes of my blog, is the importance of approaching writing from a business persepctive rather than as a solitary art, so it might surprise you what I've designated as the firth lie we writers tell ourselves:
We must write for a target audience.
I know, I know, it sounds like basic marketting strategy, but there are three reasons I believe this is not true and can, in fact, end up tying us in knots as we try to comply:
- Target audience is a marketting point that deals with how you package your writing, not necessarily how you craft it in the first place.
- You can't accurately identify a full target audience until you have an end product.
- There are a host of reasons to make writing decisions; you need to stick to the ones that deal with the craft of writing.
It's one thing to identify your genre and your basic niche, but when you get the place where you identify that you are writing for fourteen year-old girls, or middle-aged male readers who skew conservative, or readers who place a premium on environmental issues, then you are jumping ahead of the game and doing a disservice to your story. You risk limiting your audience, restricting your own writing, and turning your work into a polemic rather than a story.
If, as a I firmly believe, a professional fiction writer's job is to write a story, than the decisions you make need to be first and foremost based on the story, its characters, and the craft itself. Too often we writers are tempted to make decisions such as which what kind of secondary characters our target audience wil relate to, what degree of darkness or humor or target audience will accept and appreciate, how close we can brush up against certain socio-political topics without risking our target audience.
Instead, we need to decide those things based on what makes a good story and what constitutes good writing.
Then, when it's all done, we can figure out a target audience to whom the work can be marketted.
Alright, that's the last of the lies series for right now. I hope you've enjoyed them. In upcoming weeks, we will address:
- You're not trying to be a writer; you are a writer.
- No, it did not happen that way.
- Yes, you should outline, and here's why.
- and more!
As always, the point of Tactless Tuesday is to hard-sell, and while I do believe what I'm saying, I also think some of the value in saying it so bluntly is to generate discussion, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on the target audience!