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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are We Speaking the Same Language Here?

My husband and I are two very different people with very different personality types. I suppose it doesn't show much, no one has ever commented on how drastically different we are on our first meeting. Well... almost everyone, his college buddies don't count. But DH and I are different. We like different candy and different books. We have different ways of doing dishes, and different styles of writing.

DH, as much as I love him, should not be allowed to write. It makes my eye twitch when I am asked to edit a rough draft for him. He can't spell!!!

And then, the other day, I was unpacking and found his writing award from our college graduation. He can't write, but he makes a living writing reports.


I look at something like this (taken from a report written two years ago):
In order to restore order, the police force needs to become stronger, and be allowed to do the job of a police force, which is to enforce laws and protect the citizens of the country.

And my mind boggles.

"Look at all those to be verbs!" my inner editor cries. "It's repetitive. It's dull. Where's the sensory information?"

But DH is writing exactly how he needs to. This is perfect for his target audience. He follows the conventions of what they expect and what they want to read. He isn't writing genre fiction or fine literature, but he can write a report that gets the job done.

Why does this matter?

Because you need to know your audience.

*waits for you to snore*

Yes, you've heard it before. You're bored to death of the same advice. So let me try it another way.

You need to know what you are writing. What genre? What shelf does your work go on? How can you meet the needs of your audience if you don't have a clue who will want to read your work?

I'm sure you've heard of the queryfails that have been floating around. One of the major complaints looks something like this:

A combo [redacted] series for adults, that I can't imagine where it might fit on a publisher's list, or in a bookstore.

This is not what you want to hear about something you've put a year or more of your life into. Before you go editing and chopping and bleeding to death for a manuscript, know what you're saying and who you are saying it to. You don't need to know of the first draft, but you better know by the last draft.

Know your audience and address your writing to them.


  1. DOH! Has he read your blog? lol Good point though! :-)

  2. Great advice! I need help in this area, sadly. :(