You hear it all the time: Know Your Audience.
But today I got an interesting look at it, all wrapped up into a less-than-ten-second interaction. Excuse me while I dip into my teaching world for a moment.
Yesterday, I walked into my Gr. 5 class. Our writing blocks are normally done in large chunks of time, and the kids love every second of them, because I keep my nose more or less out of their creative output. I usually start off with a 10 minute schpiel about writing in my own experience, either as a reader or as a writer.
I was very excited yesterday, because all through January and February, I used my Middle Grade sci-fi/fantasy adventure manuscript as an example, and yesterday I knew I would get cheers as I told them, “I finished the book!” Of course, even after a solid two revisions, I know I still have work to do on it, but it is in a place that is ready for eyes now. Many of them wanted to read it. In fact, were BEGGING me to read it.
I told them and they were excited! But I wanted to get the point across to them that writing isn’t about writing ONE thing. It’s about ALWAYS writing. Take a look below at what I found on Pinterest, and then I’ll continue:
So yes, I finished a book and then kept writing. Quite literally, I opened a new Word document and started tapping out as many ideas as I could. I boiled it down to a darker adventure, one about light against dark and (excuse me being vague) other creepy but not entirely terrifying stuff. I gave the kids a brief synopsis of the new book, and then figured I’d “inspired” them enough to send them off, ready to put out some powerful words. I guarantee that at least two of those kids will be published by 30, if not earlier. These kids are all brilliant. And they’re ten.
Today, I told them, “I have only two copies of the first draft here (because my revisions made draft one complete, even though it took two … I am hard on my own writing, what can I say?), so if you’d like to read it, it’s first come, first serve and then you’ll need to wait.” They know when I say stuff like that, it means “… at recess, come get it.” So they awkwardly milled about until the bell rang and then bombarded me.
The first girl to get it had a huge smile, until she looked at the first page. This is the interaction I’d talked about above:
GIRL: “Is this the dark one … the creepy one?”
GIRL: “Oh. Well … here you go then.”
She smiled and walked off. Some other kid happily took the copy of the story.
Hey, my feelings weren’t hurt. Not everyone reads the same kind of book. In fact, I was surprised that she’d wanted it in the first place!
But, now I know WHO I need to keep in mind as I write the next one. The creepy, dark one. HER! I know the books she reads, and now I can see how obvious it should have been that that was the book she wanted.
The point I’m trying to make here, is KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE PERSONALLY. Write for yourself, of course, but if (like me) you write for kids, then write for your YOUNGER self, or someone who is LIKE you who is YOUNG … or someone YOUNG that you KNOW! My Grade Fives are Middle Grade Lit connoisseurs. They beg me daily for a “Read All Day Day” (seriously). They read everything. I know my audience, personally. It really cuts out a lot of wonder-work.