Nothing irks me more than when someone who has thousands of fans says, “You have to know your audience to be successful.” I have done countless workshops, masterclasses and seminars on “the ideal readers,” and they can all be distilled into one statement – Write for one person.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I had set out to write my mom a piece of flash fiction about her quest for black licorice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While my intention was to publish it publicly, I only wrote it for her. I knew it would make her feel special if I not only sent it to her, but published it on my blog. So, I did.
That piece of flash fiction is currently the highest viewed piece of content on my personal log.
I will link it here if you want to read it.
Here’s what I learned about finding an audience from writing that single piece.
1 – Writing for an audience of one assigned a tone to the writing early. I did not have to find my voice. It was already there.
Not only did I know who I was writing for, but the jokes and visuals that work for this person (my mother) were easy to pinpoint. For example, my mom is a consumer of creativity. She loves to read, watch television, and movies. Her hobby is consuming these things and fangirl-ing about them with other media buffs. This is there reason the “Licorice Cage” joke landed so well with her.
2 – Writing for an audience of one makes you write like The Flash.
I wrote 2,000 words of clean, flash fiction in around two hours. I took one hour to read it aloud twice, run it through Grammarly, and read it to my partner and dog. After that, it was done – meaning usable and publishable.
3 – Writing for an audience of one that is a real person works whereas writing for an imaginary ideal reader doesn’t.
At least, it doesn’t work for me. Typically, I write for myself first. I know myself. If I like something, then someone else out there might like it too. There are over 7.5 billion people on the planet. I like those odds.
So, if I wrote this piece for my mother, why is it the most viewed piece of content on my site? She shared it, because, like me, she thought, “If I think this is funny, other people will too.”
She liked the story so much that she shared it with her brothers and sisters. She also shared it with my brother and his family. It made the rounds is what I’m saying.
Main Take Aways
- Instead of “knowing your audience”, choose someone you know very well, and write for them.
- That one person can most definitely be you.
- Choose a friend or family member that you know really well and write a piece of flash fiction making them the main character. Do this for at least three people who have different tastes. This is a great way to exercise your writing muscles. You will be surprised how versatile your writing can be.
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