Daily Archives: August 17, 2010

Inspired By Sleep Deprivation (Writing For Your Audience)

“We are going to stay up all night mommy,” my daughter whispered before she left to go to her first birthday sleepover. “I heard that and you better not!” my husband hollered. As I watched her walk out with her overnight bag flung over her shoulder, a smile painted across her face and a bounce in her step, I thought, this is exactly the type of experience I need to remember in order to correctly write for middle-grade readers.
I write for a middle-grade and young adult audience so I am constantly tuning myself in when possible. Early on in my writing career, an instructor advised me that most writers will write about the time period they recall the clearest (you may disagree.) I have to agree because the years between the age of twelve and eighteen were magical for me. Every experience was new and exciting. Every emotion was magnified and every possibility was thought of as an eventual reality.
The mom in me wanted to preach to my daughter and tell her it wasn’t in her best interest to stay up late but the twelve-year old in me wanted to say “See if you can beat my record”, (which was 10:30 a.m.). This moment in time leads me to an important point. You must know your audiences before you write for them. Don’t rely on your own experiences, watch as others embark on ones of their own.
What genre do you write for? How do you tap into your inner protagonist?
Although I can clearly recall days like the one my daughter just spent, there were key elements I forgot.
What do you do to stay in touch with your target age? Do you know what is important to them? What are their mannerisms? What do their conversations sound like? (Avoid using slang because it will date your work). What makes them laugh out loud? You get my point. Do yourself a favor and take time to observe, your readers will thank you.
My child may have ended up a little sleep derived but we both gained something in the end.

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