Shoot for the Stars Tip #4: Write for Readers

In this six-part series, we’re shooting for the stars by adding some great stuff into our writing.

Shoot for the Stars Tip #1: Use Passive Voice … Occasionally

Shoot for the Stars Tip #2: Make Dialogue Count

Shoot for the Stars Tip #3: Be a Straight Shooter

And now …

Shoot for the Stars Tip #4: Write for readers.

Of course we write for ourselves. We write because we love it. We write because we enjoy writing, or as many authors have said, because we enjoy having written. We write because we feel a burning need to write and because we have something to say. So yes, we write for ourselves. But if you want anyone to read what you’ve written, if you want your book to be accepted into the marketplace, then you must write for your readers, too.

What I mean when I say to write for readers is two-fold:

First, I mean, don’t be self-indulgent. Don’t become so enamored with your own fancy words and brilliant insight and linguistic gymnastics that you disregard the reader who is going to have to wade through your prose. Or more likely, who won’t wade through it and will mark your book DNF in a Goodreads review. Don’t fill your book with details that are interesting only to you. Don’t bore your readers.

Second, I mean that it is a helpful skill to be able to identify your ideal reader and write to them. Imagine the most perfect reader for your book. How old are they? Where do they live? Do they live in a big city or a small town? What do they like to do for fun? What is their secret fear? What is their burning desire? What keeps them awake at night? What makes them happy? What are their favorite books or movies? If you can come up with a character sketch of the reader who is most going to love your book, then whenever you feel yourself drifting into self-indulgence or going off the rails, you can think of your ideal reader and write to them to get back on track.

At the same time, hold onto your voice as if your life depends on it. Every writer has a unique voice, one that is developed over many years. Some voices are more distinct than others. Some are more subtly unique. As you begin to come into your voice as a writer, don’t lose your voice. If something is a part of your voice, don’t remove it from your writing. Instead, as my writers are sick of hearing me say, earn its place in your story. If you’re super interested in something, find a way to make it interesting for your readers. It’s your job as a writer to make those things not only serve your story but to make them engaging for readers.