May 10, 2016

How Many Times Have You Asked––Who Is My Audience?

By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief for Southern Writers Magazine

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve read an article with instructions on how to know your audience–– and it had more than fluff in the body, I could probably get a Grande Vanilla Latte.
We are all looking for ways to define, streamline and know our audience. Then once we find this audience, we hope we use the right approach and not scare them off.
But maybe, if we use this approach we will have an easier time determining who our audience is.
I think it is easy to forget to plan our approach to the words we are writing. We also forget to consider how this audience will perceive our approach and how they might react to our message.
Sometimes an audience may not like how we express ourselves.
Therefore, we must consider our words.
Who knew there was so much to remember?
When I was a child my grandfather use to tell me to put myself in someone’s shoes and ask myself how I would feel. Excellent advice for us to put in use today including when we are writing.
Looking at the book we are writing, I guess it would be important to think about the people that will be reading it––what will the words say to them. What pictures will the words bring into their minds? What emotions will the words and characters stir in our readers?

But wait. I’m in my shoes, what do the words say to me? When I am reading my words, what pictures play in my mind? What emotions stir in me as I read the words and see the characters? What questions do I have? What do I need explained? Do I understand the story––does it touch me?

Esther Williams, a famous actor and swimmer in the 1940 -1950’s said, “It appeared as if I had invited the audience into the water with me, and it conveyed the sensation that being in there was absolutely delicious.” Her movies always showcased her swimming.
She made it look inviting and easy.

That is how we want to write, inviting the audience into the story with us so they have the same sensation of being there as we did when we were writing the story.

People have different perceptions. What I perceive someone is saying or doing may be
different from how someone else perceives that same person.

Barry Unsworth, an historical fiction writer said, “All my fiction starts from a feeling of unique perception, the pressure of a secret, a story that needs to be told.” He knew we all perceive things different so he developed a unique perception.

Perhaps we can use these questions to help us.

Why did I write this?
How did it touch me?
What did I learn about my story and my characters?
Will my audience feel and see the same things?
What did I take away from this story?
Will my audience?

Shia LeBeouf, the actor said, “What's cool is when you're able to give your audience imagination and you don't have to cage them in like animals.” That’s what our writing can do for our readers.
Maybe we can give our audience imagination!

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