The Audience: Who Are You Writing For?
When I first started writing, I was writing for myself. I wrote stories the way I wanted them to be. Some of them had happy endings, some did not. Some people in them were unappealing, others were charming.
Then I started writing for publication. That changes things. Do you still need to tell your story, your way? Yes, absolutely. However…before you start writing, you need to think about who you’re writing for.
I told this very same thing to hundreds of beginning writers in my composition classes. The way you write your story/essay depends on who you’re addressing. If you’re writing a paper on uniforms in public schools, and that paper is geared toward your friends, you’d take a different approach than you would if the paper were going to the school board or even the principal. You might talk to your friends in casual, chatty language, using slang and short hand that they will understand. Addressing the school board, you want to present logical clear arguments in scholarly language.
So, decide who you’re writing for. Look at your story idea. I had an idea for a paranormal story about two men in a relationship. This story could go several ways depending on the audience I choose. It could be a paranormal (fantasy) with romantic elements. It could be a romance with paranormal elements.
In order to make the best choice, you have to look at the conventions of the genre. If you choose paranormal with romantic elements, then your story will need to focus primarily on the fantasy elements. The romance aspect will be a secondary story line. This type of story will get crossover readership between people who like both genres. Likewise, if you choose to write a romance with paranormal elements, then the focus is on the romance, the paranormal bits are window dressing. The focus changes as the type of story changes.
The audience for each type of story is different as well. Whether you please or displease your readers depends on your understanding of your audience. Readers of paranormal fiction have certain expectations. Readers of romances have certain expectations.
You can’t market your story as a romance with romance readers as your audience and then not deliver some form of Happily Ever After.
You can’t market your paranormal story to paranormal readers without any paranormal occurrences—for example a shape-shifter story in which no one shifts.
You can’t sit back and say that the genre isn’t realistic and you’re going to change it. Realistic fiction is not romantic fiction. It hasn’t been, ever. It is by definition remote from everyday experience. Byron’s hero, Don Juan, was not realistic. Cyrano, Romeo, Marc Antony? If you want to write reality, you’re writing literary fiction, and that’s a different market.
If you want to write romance, then you have to understand who you’re writing for. You’re writing for readers who expect you to be wearing your rose colored glasses. You are supposed to understand that Happily Ever After and building a relationship that is not based solely on sex and happenstance are important. Choosing how to get from hi to HEA is the author’s story.
If you can’t believe in HEA, even for other people, then you should probably take that into consideration. You might be an astounding writer of romantic paranormals and a so-so writer or paranormal romance. Don’t force the genre to meet your demands, choose the right genre, the right audience to start with.
I write romance, for romance readers. Who do you write for?
By the way- I have a new book out…I rather like it. It’s funny, and the heroes are cute and flawed…if you can live with selfish and manipulative (Hey, they deserve each other!) check it out…
My imperfect heroes, Val and Adrian,
are delighted to make your acquaintance.
Valentine Michaels has just taken a vow of celibacy. Adrian Grey intends to take full advantage of that vow to re-create his relationship with Val.
Val is at a crossroads in his life. A college dropout, he’s gone as far as he can in his career as a cosmetologist, owning his own style salon. He no longer finds satisfaction in it, though he’s put years into proving to his bigoted parents that a college degree and the veneer of straightness aren’t the only roads to success. They’d turned their backs on him, and he proved he didn’t need them to make it.
His love life is no better than his working life. His relationships always start with a bang and fizzle into boredom, or worse, anger.
Adrian has his own agenda for helping Val: he’s been in love with Val since they were freshmen. The intervening years of listening to Val’s gossip about his lovers and relationships have taught Adrian just what it was he did wrong all those years ago, and he thinks this time around he now knows exactly how to get—and keep—his man.