Writing for readers

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At some point during the writing process, you have to start thinking about your readers.

I don’t mean you should sellout and introduce a teenage vampire who spends all day angsting about how much he hates himself, and all night getting spanked in the local underground BDSM scene, before being chosen to participate in a deadly game of wits and survival. Yuck. No.

When you chat with someone face-to-face, it’s considered polite to speak clearly and audibly, and to continually read the other person’s cues to make sure they aren’t growing bored by your rambling. When you’re done, you say goodbye instead of just walking away.

Writing should be approached with the same considerations. While it’s much harder to work without a present audience yawning and glancing at their cell phones, it’s good to empathize with imaginary readers and place yourself in their shoes, so to speak.

Continually ask yourself questions like:

“Is this sentence clear or do I need to reword it?”

“Is this part boring?”

“Are my transitions smooth or jarring?”

“Does this paragraph flow when I read it out loud, or is it choppy?”

“Is the end too abrupt?”

Etc, etc, etc.

Your readers are your best friends; they’re the ones who appreciate a part of you that even your parents don’t know about (at least for many of us writers, lol). Don’t take them for granted. Be a gracious host and make sure that they’re having a good time.

If you know someone you trust who fits your target audience, go ahead and use them as a beta reader. Watch them read. Pay attention to their facial expressions and body language. While they may say that something is good, a wrinkled brow and down turned mouth will tell you that there was something unsatisfying, but they might not be able to articulate it. Don’t take it personally, just think about how to make it better. I promise you that it’s a good feeling to come back with the improved version and watch someone gush over something they were previously “meh” about.

While it’s good practice to write the first draft for yourself, be in the habit of rewriting the last one for your readers. They have the power to set you down and dismiss you forever, so don’t lord your ego over them. Be nice and considerate, and show some appreciation.

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