How to Survive Becoming an Author…Week 7…Surviving Your Target Audience

Hello, it’s been a while since I’ve written one of these blogs. I’ve been really busy working, raising kids, sleeping (sort of), and in general suffering from a bit of writer’s block. But the good news is I’ve finally worked through the haze, and even launched my very first website! I like to think of it as my “All-in-one” web stop for all things me! Give it a visit and let me know what you think at:

www.authorterryjames.com

Enough about me, let’s do this thing!

Writing a novel is not always black and white. Though you may read what you have written and think it is the making of the greatest story ever told, someone from another country, or even another region of your own, may read it and be lost in translation. Remember when your writing that you are, whether by accident or on purpose, writing for a target audience.

A book a seven-year-old child is reading is much different from that of an adult. Teenage romance should not sound more like adult romance (though from what I’m seeing of late, the lines seem to blur more and more each year… but that’s a completely different debate altogether). Even ethnic based storytelling has a very different yet wonderful taste to it. In short, know your audience.

Now that doesn’t translate into, “I’m writing this book only for middle-aged, over-weight, jobless video gamers still living in their parent’s basement”, but in a weird way, it kind of does. If your story involves prancing unicorns with gumdrop saddles on an adventure through the Rainbow Meadows to find the Soda-Pop River looking for a caffeine kick, you’ve pretty much decided this story is probably not for corporate executive adults (unless they are secretly furies, but I’m not judging). This probably shouldn’t be 100,000 word-long novel with no pictures (unless you are J.K Rowling).

Now with that said, let’s look into a not so obvious example. It is a story about two teenage kids from two separate sides of town who find each other and fall in love. The story involves and touches on such subjects as alcohol and drug abuse, premarital sex, turf war violence, rape, suicide, and murder. It involves teens, so it should be a YA (Young Adult) novel, right? WRONG! (This is of course my personal opinion, not all authors will agree with this and I welcome the well-mannered debate.) The mere fact that the story is made up mostly of a teenage cast does not make it a teenage book.

So how will you know the difference when writing, let me give you two examples of the same scene written in both the YA and Adult voice and it should clear it up. Content is the major factor here:

(YA)

She found herself unable to breathe as his lips softly touched hers for the first time. A million indistinguishable thoughts raced through her mind as she closed her eyes and welcomed his warm embrace. It seemed like forever since she had dreamed of this very moment, and the sensation was far more wonderful than she could have ever imagined.

(Adult)

She found herself unable to breathe as he plunged his tongue deep inside her mouth, caressing her own. At that moment, her thoughts raced as the warmth of his bare chest pressed firmly against hers as he tightly embraced her, taking in the moment ravenously like a starving lion about to feast. An overwhelming tingling sensation coursed through her body like nothing she could have ever imagined.

See the difference, two of the very same scenes told in two very different ways. One told suggestive of the situation verses one that outlined the exact situation, the difference, content and description.

Hopefully this helps you in defining your target group of readers and shaping your dialog accordingly as you venture into writing your novels, see you again soon with another installment!

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