When you are writing, what is your intention? I like to describe it with an analogy.
Let's pretend we are going on a road trip together to Disneyland! Why Disneyland? Well, because it's super fun!
Anyway, let's say we're going to Disneyland and we're going to do a road trip, which means we're going to drive. Unless you live in Florida, which would be closer, many of us would have to either fly or drive a very long distance to Disneyland. How would we get there?
The answer to this is, “What is your intention?” Your intention is to get to a specific place, and in this case, you’re going to Orlando, Florida. If you started off on a road trip and you did not know where you were going, how would you get there?
Okay. I know that sounds like a blinding glimpse of the obvious, but really, it's a smart question.
· When you apply this question to writing, “Where are you going?”, it is similar to planning a big road trip.
· You have to plan ahead in order to have a good time and to make your destination.
· If you do not identify your intention and simply say, “Well, I'm just going to write something!” then you do not have a destination in mind period without your intention.
· Without identifying where it is that you want to go while you were writing, you may have a good time, you may get lost, you may get frustrated, but you most definitely won't end up where you want to be.
So let's do this. Let's say you have something that you want to write. I'm going to use my example of my second book, “Tickers 2”. My intention is to schedule interviews with people who do what they do for a living and make money so they can do what they really love in their off hours. That's my intention.
Okay, let's apply it to you. Say you were writing a fiction story and your intention is write a murder mystery. You've identified your intention when you declare you want to write a murder mystery. I would encourage you to look a little further and figure out more about it is that your intention is.
· Do you want this to be a suspenseful murder mystery filled with twists and turns and nobody knows exactly where it's going to go? (An example might be Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.)
· Or are you going to make it somewhat tongue in cheek and funny keeping your reader entertained and laughing at the same time that you are solving a murder mystery? (An example might be the Maternal Instincts Mystery Series by Diana Orgain.)
Your intention leads to lots of choices you will make about your book. Using our murder mystery example, a suspenseful mystery will have a moody, maybe dark cover. It will be written in a way that is somewhat serious, perhaps sarcastic, but rarely is it out and out funny. On the other hand, the funny mystery will likely have a bright, colorful cover. It will be written with a joking manner, even though it is technically a story about a murder. And that’s just a couple of examples. Once you know your intention, keep it in mind as you write and stay true to your vision.
Another thing to remember about intention is who you believe your ideal audience is. This leads beautifully into my next topic, which is, “Who is your audience?”
Who are you imagining reading your book once you have it completed? Many potential clients tell me they have written a book and they're like, “My book appeals to everyone.” Well, okay, your book may appeal to a wide audience of people versus say a very niche book on a very limited topic, but I think if you narrow it down, you'll see having a more specific audience in mind is more helpful.
For instance, I love to read a fiction series on detectives written by Tana French. Some could argue her books appeal to a wide number of people because of her amazing characters.
However, I would specifically say she appeals to:
· An audience who likes to figure out a crime story but not be able to solve the ending too easily before the book is completed.
· People who really enjoy good character development.
I would also say her book would not appeal to:
· Someone who is into science fiction or fantasy because her books are set in “real life.”
· A romance writer because they would be frustrated by the lack of romantic detail.
I know I was hoping two of her characters in her first book would end up in a relationship. When they. I personally was disappointed. Not that I'm wild about romance, but I do like to “ship” characters (hello, Mulder & Scully!)
Anyway, what I suggest that you do for both determining your intention and identifying your audience is to write a little bit down first about what your intention is.
Let me give you another example. Say your intention is, “I want to write a children's book and I want it to appeal to older children.”
Once you know your intention, the children's book, you can start to figure out a few things right off the bat.
· What is your ideal age range for your readers? The same kind of book that appeals to an eight to 12-year-old will not appeal to a younger child. Most likely the books for the younger children are too juvenile and would seem too babyish to a an eight to 12-year-old.
· How do you want your readers to react to your book? Is it going to be children's book that has fictional, magical people in it? Will it be a historical book, and therefore based on historical facts?
Say you choose your ideal audience are eight to 12-year-olds and it is a book about the Liberty Bell. Then you could set your intention appropriately and start crafting your story in such a way that would appeal to your average eight to 12-year-old.
What do eight to 12-year-olds like?
· They like humor.
· They like adventure.
· They like gross stuff.
Take a look at the most popular books for your ideal audience and see what elements these books have. How are they appealing to an eight to 12-year-old and what's their intention?
For example, the Harry Potter series definitely appeals to that age range. If I had to guess what the intention was for J.K. Rowling to write the Harry Potter series, I’d say it is not only to entertain but also to bring some important lessons along the way for the kids. I think the children in Harry Potter as they grow up, become more autonomous. They are curious about their world. They start figuring out that yes, authority is good, but don't blindly accept authority.
Another really fun way to picture your audience is imagine that you're writing to one person who fits within your identified scope. For instance, say you happen to have a niece or nephew or child who is between eight and 12-years-old. Imagine that you're writing for that child.
· What would they laugh at?
· What would they think was scary?
· Would they think it was funny or stupid or wonderful?
You can ask somebody you know if they're willing to be a Beta reader, or in other words, if they will read a draft of your book before it is completed so they can give you feedback.
Our takeaways for today are:
· You want to have a roadmap for your book, so be sure to write out your intention.
· Also know more about your intention, such as what type of book you want to write.
· Keep your intention in mind as you write.
· Think about who your ideal reader, or ideal audience, is.
· Figure out additional details to narrow down exactly what that ideal reader would like. This will help you stay focused on those details as you write.
· Think of a specific person and write to that person.
· Consider asking a trusted and reliable person to be a beta reader for you. Ensure that person is in your ideal audience.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. See you next month with more steps for writing YOUR book!