Is Anyone Listening to You?

When you write—a report, a blog, a newsletter, a book, a manual, even a song—your goal is to communicate a unique message. Since thousands of voices bombard everyone constantly, how can you focus someone’s full attention on you?

The key is to know your audience, what they are looking for, what intrigues them, and write directly to them. Stay inside those precise boundaries.

Here’s what I mean:


When writing something SHORT, keep your message simple. Your target audience wants a quick snapshot.

Example:

Yes) The required class HTML for Beginners will cover the basics of tags, attributes, elements, lists, links, images, tables, and forms.

No) The required class HTML for Beginners will cover a wide selection of things that you will most likely need to know in order to format pages such as web pages or blogs. It won’t cover the advanced stuff, but you’ll learn a lot of the basics. We will cover what tags are and why you have to close them, the variety of different attributes you will want to use, the importance and structure of elements, how to create both unordered and ordered lists, how to embed… [The details will be covered IN the class, not in the general description.]


When writing something FACTUAL, only include pertinent information. Eliminate everything else, even if it relates to the topic. People searching for facts want them clear and concise.

Example:

Yes) Calico cats are nearly always female because their coloring comes from the maternal X chromosome and the paternal X chromosome. The rare male calico cat has three chromosomes (two X and one Y) and is typically sterile.

No) I have a gorgeous calico cat. She is like nearly every other calico cat—a female. The reason my kitty and most all calicos are females has to do with their chromosomes. The color of their coats is linked to X chromosomes, so they have an X chromosome from their mother and an X chromosome from their father. That makes two X chromosomes, so the cat will be female. Sometimes there is rare occurrence where a calico cat has both of the X chromosomes plus an additional Y chromosome, which will make it male. However, a male calico cat will probably be sterile. I’ve never met a male calico cat, but I’m sure they are just as sweet as female calico cats.


When writing a FULL-LENGTH BOOK (or a novella), identify your genre and know it thoroughly. People who read books will have to carve out a lot of time to focus solely on your writing. That’s a serious commitment. In exchange, they expect you to write excellently within the parameters of your genre. Don’t try to break the rules or be “different than everyone else.” It won’t work. Sure, you can write anything you want, but will anyone (but your best friend) read it?

You need to excel at your craft. Most people believe a writer is an expert in everything they write. They will get annoyed by inconsistencies or errors, they will stop reading, you will lose their respect, and they may cut you down in reviews and to others. You don’t want that! Be an expert in your genre and write excellently.

Examples:

  • If your setting is a historical time period, do not use slang phrases or common terminology. You can find out the date that words and phrases were first used and in what country. Read excerpts from that time period. Research what technology (electricity, buildings, etc.) existed at that time. Find out what medicinal remedies were used. How people traveled. What they ate. What they wore. How they communicated long-distance. Research everything about that time period.

  • When writing a modern-day story, don’t use long, detailed descriptions or fancy words. Modern stories mimic the fast-clipped pace of real life. There are special effects that are used for today’s writing (here are a few). Keep up with technology, world events, and everything that you mention in your writing. Also, don’t give detailed descriptions of things that will likely change soon. Have you heard of the new holographic phones? Phones keep evolving! So don’t write that a person’s cell phone jingles a tune, they pick it up, and punch a button/swipe the screen to answer. Just have them answer a call. That way, no matter what phones look like or how they perform in the near future, your writing will still be “current.”

  • If you are writing about a specific country, make sure every little detail is accurate—language, locations, weather, food, recreation, businesses, leadership, attitudes, plus all of the unique terms and trends that locals know.

  • If you are writing characters who have a specific career, research that career thoroughly plus have an expert check your writing. Nothing will disgust readers more than an author who writes something completely ridiculous in “their” field of expertise. Never, ever guess or surmise based on web searches or simply asking questions. Get in the trenches with someone who does this career for a living, learn all you possibly can, then after you write the scenes, have them review/correct them. If not, readers “in the know” will utterly discredit you—I see this happen constantly. Accuracy is critical to readers.

  • If you are writing fantasy or futuristic civilizations, be extremely diligent that your worlds, characters, languages, abilities, etc. are 100% consistent in every way. Readers will notice all of your discrepancies.

  • If you are writing a young adult book and you are not a young adult, make sure you learn the current lingo, attitudes, habits, interests, concerns, etc. of YAs in your specific setting.

You get the idea.

Be an expert at whichever genre you choose. The whole point of spending excessive amounts of time, money, agony, and excruciatingly hard work is to be a success—you want readers to embrace and praise your writing!


Have a significant message. There are thousands upon thousands of entertainment options and information sources available—we don’t need more. Be sure that your message is powerful and significant enough that someone will push aside everything else to focus on what you say.


Savvy Writer Tip:

Before you write, clearly identify your audience. What are they interested in? What are they looking for? What are they expecting? Research and write within those exact parameters. Convey your message as excellently as possible. Take all the time and effort necessary to master this. You want your message to be so captivating that your readers will appreciate it, applaud it, and eagerly share it with others! 🙂

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