Writing for Your Audience

“The audience is the most revered member of the theatre. Without an audience there is no theatre. Every technique learned by the actor... every careful analysis by the director, every coordinated scene, is for the enjoyment of the audience. They are our guests, our evaluators, and the last spoke in the wheel which can then begin to turn.”

- Viola Spolin

Audience & Purpose

When it comes to any art form, audience is key. Whether you are writing a book, a concerto, a pop song or a play, you are likely doing so in the hope that it will one day be received and enjoyed by an audience. In order to achieve the best possible success, it's vital to consider them in the process.

Elements such as the organization, tone, word choice and content of your book define the identity of your audience and determine how effectively you reach them. In turn, approaching these elements of writing with your audience in mind will help you to appeal to them all the more.

Don't imagine that writing your book your way is a bad idea; on the contrary, an audience expects a genuine voice from an author. What's also important, however, is that your sense of who you are writing for - and why - is clear.

Consider the following readers:

  1. A single mother of 4 with a part time job and a passion for mechanics.
  2. A couple in their early 30s pursuing careers in the arts in New York.
  3. A 20-year-old Comparative Literature major living off student loans in California.
  4. A retired couple in their late 60s with 6 grandchildren and 4 dogs.

The diverse personalities and lifestyles described above demonstrates the many interests and motivations of a potential reader. There is no book that can appeal to every one of the world's readers, and this should not be your intention as a writer.

Answering a few key questions about your audience's typical age, gender, job and lifestyle will help you assess whether your writing will translate into a book they will be excited to read.

The following scenario illustrates how you can begin to develop your writing with your audience in mind:

Imagine you are asked to deliver a presentation discussing the concept of gravity. If you are successful, you will be awarded $10,000.

Before getting started, you'll naturally have some questions that you feel will help give you the best possible chance of winning that $10,000.

They would likely include:

  • How old are the people I am presenting to? Are they five or fifty-five?
  • What do they know about gravity? Are they learning about it for the first time, or are they Physicists interested in applying the concept to a contemporary theory?
  • What is the outcome I hope to achieve? Do I want to explain why an apple falls from a tree, or how to create artificial gravity in the vacuum of space?
  • Do I know, or can I find out, all I need to do a good job?

Knowing the context will have a huge effect on your final presentation and your ability to win the prize.

The same goes for writing a book.

The next time you sit down to write, begin by asking yourself:

  • What am I writing?
  • Who am I writing for?
  • What do they want from a story like mine?
  • How can I give it to them?

The answers to these simple questions will provide you with a clear starting point from which to write your next great work!

Written by Kate Juniper, FriesenPress Editorial and Illustrations Coordinator
Edited by Brian Cliffen, FriesenPress Marketing Coordinator
Image c/o Shutterstock