The Audience in my Head
Jessica Corra Tudor
Copyright © 2007 by
Jessica Corra Tudor, All Rights Reserved
I don't consciously think about who I’m
writing for while I'm writing. That would be like allowing my Inner
Editor off her leash and letting her invite friends. I do all my
planning and editing with an audience in my head, however. I find that
in the pre- and post- writing stages, thinking about my audience proves
So who is my audience? For me, it's my
twin sister and my husband, whose tastes are worlds apart. My twin
sister is analytical, acerbic, and secular. My husband is quick-witted,
religious, and handsome -- and also brutally honest and very picky. I
ask myself, "Would they both read it?" This is what keeps me balanced.
What offends my husband is no big deal for my sister, and vice versa.
How is this helpful to me as a writer?
Doesn't trying to balance both sides just mean I'm pretty boring? You'd
think so. I look at it another way: readership appeal. Not everyone is
going to want to read a historical thriller with fantasy elements, but
if they did, would they read mine? The readership extremes are
represented in my head by my audience. Rather than limiting me, they
often prompt me in better directions. For instance, it would offend my
husband if a character outright cursed. How else can I show his
It's not so different from the
characters floating around in my head as I plan the story. It's one
thing to look at an action and ask if a character would really perform
it. It's another to ask if it's something anyone would want to read. My
audience is my objective yard stick, because as a writer I don't have an
objective bone in my body.
I know someone will argue with me, "But
I write for myself! Why should I bother with other people's opinions?"
Well, aside from a desire to publish, you mean. I know writers who are
their own yardstick, and write things they would want to read. I
can't do that. I'm a really picky reader and I am also a very poor judge
of my own writing, as many writers are. So what I think is brilliant and
original... well, I'm more likely to see its flaws when I run it by my
sister and husband -- in my head. Note that my audience contains people
I know very well; I can assume the responses they make in my head are
what they would really say because I know them so well.
Considering other people's opinions may
keep you from spending a lot of time with a piece that is ultimately not
going anywhere, no matter how cool you think blue pixies are.
While I'm not going to tell you that
pieces you write may not be worthwhile, because we learn from everything
we write, I am going to say that if we're critical upfront with our work
-- objectively, truly critical -- we'll probably spare ourselves some
heartache and wasted time, and maybe even become better writers for it.
If you take yourself seriously as a writer (especially if you plan to
submit your work), you should consider your readership. Even if you
ultimately reject having one in your head (enough voices already,
maybe?) you should still ask the question, "Would anyone read this
besides my mom?" It may seem obvious but then again, maybe not. And
since I'm the last person who can answer that question about my work, I
leave it up to my husband and sister.
(Or maybe I just like to see them