Writing for your reader
In a separate thread I noted that my work had been criticised because it was not obvious who I was writing for - who was my expected reader. Were they young or old, male or female, and so on. While I might argue with some of the examples from my text that the reviewer came up with, I cannot argue this central conclusion. I can honestly say that I never thought of the reader as some separate external entity. I didn't write for someone else. I wrote for myself, and my tastes range widely, so I'm not totally surprised that my writing is not as tightly targeted as a professional might want.
It may be time for me to more specifically address that aspect of my work, if I really intend to publish ... or at the very least keep it in mind over my next edit and reworking of the novel. Then again, while I can see this may be important in some very specific genres (and childrens' books), I am not so certain that I consider it such a big deal in things like fantasy and general fiction (I'm not really a believer in "YA" tags and similar).
I was curious of other writers thoughts on this matter. How much do you consider some specific target reader while you are writing? How much do you let it control what you write (not just language-wise, but also in plot and character development)?