Hello, and welcome back to my series on How To Write A Novel. In this series, I am attempting to explain exactly what step I go through to get a novel from idea to print. In this segment, I will explain a little bit about the importance of selecting an audience and how it affects your story.
You’ve probably heard this a million times when starting out in writing, whether it was a creative writing teacher or your English teacher in grammar school. Know your audience. This pertains to all types of writing, not just creative writing. In a business meeting, you can’t just start spouting off computer stats and then break off into a spell of nursery rhymes. Or perhaps you might, if you knew that your audience would appreciate that. In this case, it’s all a matter of perspective.
Remember a couple of posts ago, I went over the logline. That little important piece will get you far among potential readers, agents and publishing houses. It’s what some people in the advertising biz call the elevator pitch. It’s quick, down and dirty and gives all the information your target needs. Yes, I used the word target on purpose. A target in this case is still an audience. Your target audience. Notice that even in this tiny twenty-five word (could be more, remember we’re shooting for twenty-five), we have a target audience.
Going back to our logline. For a refresher, here is the logline we came up with: A gifted storyteller must help a poor bugbear to return to his kingdom in order to save it from usurping trolls. You can go here for tips about the logline: https://tleemessick.com/2020/02/23/building-blocks-the-logline.
This particular logline shows that we are writing about something in a fantasy setting. Troll and bugbears don’t usually fit inside a thriller or a murder mystery, although they certainly may because it’s your world after all. The logline is a bit ambiguous, though. This could cut into several audiences and, to me, is a bit broad in scope. Though this might work for that elevator pitch, it really doesn’t catch the audience’s attention as to whom it is being pitched.
It could easily be pitched to a fantasy audience or an audience of children or to even those who liked Harry Potter (me being one of them.) In this case, the audience I chose is probably around eight to twelve years old. This is a time where chapter books are a thing and they are interested in young heroes and heroines so save nice creatures from evil baddies. At least that’s what I remember growing up. Things might have changed since then, but this is how I’m going to approach it anyway.
A young but gifted storyteller must help a bugbear trapped in this world go back to restore the kingdom from troll ruin.
Now this could be worth something. It is more specific, but could it be better? Is it talking to a specific audience? Well, young can mean so many different things. Again, it is a matter of perspective. Someone young to me might be in their late thirties. I am young to my parents. My parents are young to the elder siblings. See what I’m saying? We’re targeting a group of eight to twelve-year olds, so we need to be more appealing to that crowd.
To help a stranded bugbear save his kingdom from evil trolls, outcast summer campers must help find a way to reopen the portal between their worlds.
Wow! I definitely like this one better. I added outcast because kids love the outcasts and the underdogs (at least I did when I was little) and we know they are summer campers, which shows more or less the age group they belong to. It’s also more specific at what is happening with an antagonistic force. What’s better? We’re at twenty-six words. BAM!
Now that we have nailed down our logline for this story, let’s see how we could change it to make it appeal to a different audience. Here might be one for the Harry Potter audience (though the last one might appeal as well to the same crowd).
A boy gifted with a bit of magic must help a magical creature return to him home overrun by evil trolls so he can warn his king.
How about this one?
Summer campers happen upon a strange creature in the night and now they must help him restore order to a chaotic world overrun by evil.
Definitely an older feel to it. More of an epic fantasy if you ask me. See how the audience seems to change with each of the revisions?
Knowing your audience helps in many places. Most of the time, you want to know exactly who they are well before putting your first word on the screen. Many times, I have heard that you must find out who you are writing for before even getting to the logline, and that is true, but using your logline line to find and narrow down your audience can help keep your writing concise and focused. Now that we have a goal with some good guy players and a set of bad guy players, now we can move on to some of the meatier topics, which I’ll cover in subsequent posts.
I hope this has been helpful and that you’ll continue with me on this journey in writing a novel. If you have any questions or concerns, want a specific topic covered, just leave a comment below or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (I know, hard to remember, right?) I’ll do my best to answer your questions (as long as they’re writing related). As always, Happy Writing!