Wednesday, October 21, 2009

For Whom Do We Write?

For whom do we write? Some people will say that we write for God. I don’t want to disagree with that, since everything we do should be for him, but that in itself helps us little in determining how we should write. There is nothing we can write that God doesn’t understand and there is nothing we can write that can approach his ability.

Others will say that we write for ourselves. We are not to write for others, they say, for it will cause us to change what we say to please them and we will be unable to please everyone. The solution, it would seem, is to write for ourselves, to stay true to what we believe we should write. If others like it, great, but if not, then that is too bad.

While we should remain true to who we are as writers, we should never lose sight of the ultimate goal. We are trying to communicate truth to the reader. Imagine that you aren’t writing for some faceless person who happens to have picked up your book in a bookstore or has ordered it from Instead, imagine that you are writing a book for your child, your own flesh and blood. Now, imagine that you are writing a book that the President of the United States will read. How different those two books ought to be. While there is overlap, the truth that your child needs to read is far different than what the President needs to read. But, if we write for ourselves, as some would have us do, we would write the same book in either case.

Now, most likely, we aren’t writing for our children or for the President. We are in fact writing for that faceless book buyer. As much as possible, we need to give him a face. We need to consider what he needs to read, what he will enjoy reading, how much education he has and what words we can use when communicating with him. Maybe it isn’t a him at all. Maybe it is a her. Whatever face this person has, we need to write for that person, so that we can communicate well.