Monday, July 16, 2007

Writer Tip #24 -- Targeting Your Audience

Hi there! If you're here looking for the Amazing August Blog Hop, click here ... I sort of linked the wrong post on the Linky. I'm still learning. :)


No, I haven't fallen off the planet as far as writing tips go -- although I'm sure it feels that way.

Writer Tip #24 is to know who your target audience is. I believe I've talked about this before, but it's so important, I'm going to do it again.

As you sit down to write your book, you need to picture who you're writing for. Anything that's family-oriented, romantic, or has a nostalgic feel will, for the most part, be aimed at women. Anything that's bang-em-up, ridin' horses, or really heavy suspense will, for the most part, be aimed at men. Now, you will have your exceptions -- some men really enjoy a good nostalgic story and some women really get into a shoot-em story, but speaking of the generalities, which usually predict the market, this is how we'll categorize our books for men and women.

Why are we doing this? By determining our audience, we determine our writing style.

Again, using generalities:

Men like their stories a little more terse and to the point. They want to get to the action. They want suspense right up front, they want things to move along quickly, and they don't care as much about setting, colors, and descriptions. They like to have a general idea of what things look like, but for the most part, it really doesn't matter to them if the girl's dress was crimson or scarlet -- for them, it's good enough that it's red. They are action-oriented readers.

Women like their stories to touch them emotionally. When a character suffers, they want to feel that suffering for themselves. Women want to feel as though the characters in the book are their friends. Women want to know what shade the dress is, what the room looks like, how she fixed her hair for the big party. When the guy breaks the girl's heart, women want to cry right along with the character. Women want to connect internally with what they're reading.

So, as you're writing, ask yourself -- am I reaching out to my reader in the way they want me to?

For example:

She went into her room and cried.

This is not enough for a female reader. Let's try again:

She went into her room and kicked her discarded yellow t-shirt out of the way, closing the door behind her with a thud of finality. Only then did she let the tears flow, but her chest hurt from keeping the sobs in for so long. She threw herself down on her unmade bed, pulling her lavender pillow close and using it to muffle her sobs.

Okay, that's more of a woman's story. We get emotion, we get description, and we feel some of the character's pain.

However, for a man:

She went into her room and cried. Downstairs, he loaded his gun, then climbed into his Jeep 4X4, peeling out and leaving black streaks on the concrete. As he drove past Marconi's house, he rolled down his window and blasted the garage door with four perfectly round holes.

In this example, it doesn't matter what her room looks like, what color his truck is, what color Marconi's house is, or what anyone was wearing when they did it.

You'll also use these tips as you write different genres -- a straight romance will generally have more description than a straight suspense, while a romantic suspense will employ both methods.

For more writing tips, go to the top of this blog and put "writer tips" in the search bar.


Stephanie Humphreys said...

Good examples Tristi, thanks.

kris said...

Hey Tristi - just wanted to say thank you for the very kind words you left on my blog! I love it when you visit.

Anna Maria Junus said...

These are good examples! Thanks for the tips.

Aneeka said...

I liked this writing tip. I knew there were differences of writing style between books aimed for male and female, but you really helped to nail down what those differences were.

Thanks for the tip!

Shanna Blythe said...

Loved the examples, Tristi! Like Aneeka knowing that there are different writing styles and actually seeing them are two very different things.

Karen said...

I love your writing tips! You make it sound so easy, and it makes perfect sense. Now, to put it into practice is a whole 'nother thing.

BTW, I rec'd an email from Paypal about my book order. I e-mailed you, but not sure you got it. I still owe you money and want to order the next book!

E-mail me at


Cindy Beck, author said...

Great writing tip. Thanks! And I loved the guy's version of the story ... nothing pleases a male reader like blowing a hole in something! :-)

Marsha Ward said...

Thanks, Tristi. These examples show me that I really do tend to write for men.

Darvell Hunt said...

This is really an interesting topic.

I wrote a pre-mormon-settlement-of-Utah novel and submitted it to Cedar Fort for Lee Nelson to read. I thought he would like it because it was somewhat similar to what he wrote. Kind of a western novel with Indians.

He liked it.

He also thought he couldn't sell it because the market audience was too small.

For my next novel, I thought to myself, what I can write that would interest the largest number of people? I thought A LOT about the audience before I even started, because I didn't want to get rejected again because my novel was not marketable.

I'm now shopping this novel around and I think my chances of acceptace are MUCH higher.

Thanks for the advice, Tristi.


Jordan McCollum said...

I love your examples. Thanks for sharing this on Writer Wednesday!

I think I must be some sort of freakish hybrid reader. I expect both (well, depending on the genre--when I'm reading a book by a best-selling "thriller" author, I expect you know something, ANYTHING explosive to happen in the first 50 pages. But I also have to have a character I care about. Man, I must be hard to please.)

kbrebes said...

Wonderfully written examples which are easy to relate to. You're so good, Tristi. I love your heart and I love that pic of you with the rifle! Kabam!!

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