Writing commandment: Know thy audience


Before submitting a finished manuscript to agents and publishers, writers are often reminded to know know their audience.


Flickr: nedim chaabene

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It’s a common mistake for many writers to spend countless hours bent over their notebooks or furiously tapping words into their computers only to forget that real people are waiting on the other end of that heartfelt effort to read what they have written.

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When we forget about our readers, we risk failing to meet their expectations for a great story that will change their lives in some powerful or poignant way.

If we don’t consider our reading audience and what they like and need from a story, they may put the book down, bored and disenchanted.

So, know your audience before you write. If you are writing a science fiction thriller, chances are Grandma is not going to be grabbing this one off the bookstore shelves.

Who love sci-fi thrillers? Perhaps a younger audience. Maybe guys. And likely young people who are willing to suspend reality for an exciting dose of imagination.

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Why does this matter? Well, once you know for whom you write, then the remaining details should follow, details like setting and writing style. Language in a thriller may be less lush and lyrical than in a novel of literary genius. And a sci-fi setting may be more inclined towards the cool and contemporary than a scene set back in the dusty American Southwest of the 1880s.

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Knowing your audience allows you to write with vision and purpose which is vital for creating a piece that is impactful and meaningful for the reader. And that, after all, leads to a most important component of our writing — the ‘why.’

Why do we write? Why do YOU write? You write to be read. You write to tell a story. To spread a message. To uplift, educate and inspire others to dream, imagine, escape and live better, happier lives. Once you have that nailed down, deciding on the ‘who’ of your audience should come more readily.

Happy writing!

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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