Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Reader

When I write, I always have reader in mind. Even though hundreds or even thousands of different people may read what I’ve written, I always image that I’m writing to one person. That person usually doesn’t have name, but he’s that guy that isn’t doing something right. If he were, I wouldn’t be writing to him. Today, my reader is an author who probably doesn’t have a traditional publishing contract and needs to change in order to achieve success. That reader could be you.

The reader always needs to change. If he didn’t, what would be the point writing to him? So when we write, the first thing we do is to help the reader determine that he needs to change. We want him to see the problem as his problem If we’re writing fiction, we want him to see that the problem the character faces is similar to something our reader might face. Once we helped the reader identify with the problem, we give him a solution to the problem. That sounds simple enough, but we have to assume that the reader has some objections to the solution. Our reader might identify with a character who is locked out of the house, for example. Our solution is for the character to call friend who has a copy of his keys. We assume reader might objecs and ask, what should be done if the friend isn’t home. So now we present a our reader with a solution that addresses his concerns. We don’t have our reader sitting there next to us, so we must guess the objections and address them all.

Even though we imagine we have one reader, more than one person has the attributes of the reader we imagine. If our reader needs to change because he is addicted to alcohol, we can easily see that there’s more than one person who fits that description. But there are also people who may not be that reader, but they want to read something aimed at that reader. The wife of that reader, for example, might want to read something like that. Even though we expect to have the wife of that reader in the audience, we don’t write about how the wife should handle the problems of the situations. We keep our focus on that reader.

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