Writing with Readers in Mind

I wonder how many of you (who are writers) approach your writing with your readers in mind, in the sense that you are fashioning a product for that consumer. Personally, that doesn’t work for me, but I imagine it does for many. When I read some of the reviews my stories have received online, I can only think that a lot of those people really shouldn’t be reading those stories! Yesterday on Amazon someone left a review about Tiddlywink the Mouse complaining that she couldn’t follow the plot. Maybe that’s because there is no plot! It’s a collection of silly stories about a mouse who likes to play with his friends, and frequently runs smack into gooey chocolate clouds. Maybe it’s that many English Lit classes have given people a really warped sense of expectations. They’ve been trained to believe that every piece of scribbling they encounter is going to follow certain rules, and provide them with appropriate arcs, sufficient back stories and happy endings, hopefully including either a wedding or a romantic murder-suicide pact. On that basis they go around acting like English Lit teachers grading homework assignments and doling out their carefully considered apportion of stars. When I write with such readers in mind, I want to mess with their heads. I really do. I want to let them know that an ending is just that, where something ends. We are all of us facing an ending in this life, and it’s an ending we are not going to like very much, so I’d like suggest that they might as well get used to it. Of course, I’m not trying to sell something to these readers – or to any readers. It’s one of the (many) reasons I give away my stories for free, so that I can be free, free to write without any readers in mind. As usual, I am only speaking for myself.

This post was originally going to be about the relationship between daydreaming and writing. It recently occurred to me that daydreaming is where writing began for me, not in contact, but in the practice of the voice inside my head.

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4 thoughts on “Writing with Readers in Mind

  1. I write nonfiction with readers in mind. Even for fiction, it’s much easier to market a book that is prepared for a particular audience. Many writers wind up with a finished book, and then begin to think about marketing. Very often, the book doesn’t fit any common genre, or doesn’t meet the expectations of an established audience, which makes the book very difficult to market. Unfortunately, perhaps, writers who approach the craft from a business perspective, designing content and a package geared toward an established audience, are much more likely to succeed than writers who approach artistically, putting together something unique. The latter may actually make for better reading, but it’s so much more difficult for the readers who would appreciate such work to find it.

    I only write fiction occasionally, and I do it as a creative diversion. Thus far, my fiction hasn’t fit any particular market. But, if like me, writers would prefer to write freely, and not care that the book may not sell, what’s the harm in that? On the other hand, I also write nonfiction for which there is an established audience, which helps to make up for my creative diversions in fiction.

    Nice post! 🙂

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    • Thanks. Finding unusual fiction is often just a matter of luck! One of my favorite things about working in bookstores was how it increased those odds. Now I seemt o mostly rely on finding like-minded people on places like Goodreads. Fortunately, the few I have found there have managed to keep me supplied with more than enough to keep me busy!

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