Who do you write for?

When I was trying to publish The Duchess Quest as it originally stood, one of my best friends asked me what my purpose was: to write the book I wanted to write, regardless of all else, or to write something marketable that would get published?

Of course, my answer was ideally both. But in time, I started to lean towards the latter. Especially because the market often reflects the desires of readers… including myself. Sure, I had written the initial 165,000 word draft to satisfy my writer-self… but as a reader, was it something I’d have wanted to read? I don’t have patience for long, dragging openings and endless chapters of expo and backstories. As the mother of an active two-year-old, my time and attention span is limited. I realized it was time to butcher the manuscript, not just to cater to agents and publishers, but to readers… including myself. Because at the end of the day, it’s really about providing quality and exciting material for readers – and of course, as writers, we are first and foremost readers ourselves.

Of course, I think any writer at heart will still write, even if no one’s reading (or publishing). I’ve mentioned elsewhere that writing is as essential to me as eating or breathing. It’s a cathartic reflex and is how I make sense of the world. I primarily write because it’s just how I’m wired; I couldn’t stop if I tried. But the question of an audience and how (or if) to share a finished product inevitably arises.

When you write, who do you write for? Yourself, the characters in your head who are bursting to come alive and the story within that’s begging to be told? The market or your publisher? Your fans and readers? I suppose my honest answer would be a solid blend of all of the above.

Quick thought: remembering an old fantasy series

March 13, 2015

Revisiting old work

March 13, 2015

2 Thoughts on Who do you write for?

  1. I write for an “ideal reader” of my genre. This imaginary person helps me think about how the story should go. His gender changes with every book. For Other Systems specifically it was a pedantic male somewhere in his 30’s who wants the science correct. This imaginary person didn’t lead me astray.

    • Elizabeth, that’s really cool! I’ve never thought to write for a singular ideal audience member. Almost sounds like he’s your literary thought-form/guide. 😀 It’s beginning to occur to me since posting this that I think I write for the characters most of all. Like, I can feel them asking me to tell transcribe their story, and directing me, “No, I would never say it like that! I’d do it *this* way…”

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