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Old 08-05-2012, 08:09 AM   #16
kennyc
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Link to thread with Will Self Interview:

Will Self: 'I don't write for readers'

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Old 08-06-2012, 05:26 PM   #17
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I think this is the fundimental question of writing.

I like writing what I like. And I am sure that in the 6 billiion people on Earth some them will like it. However, I am in a continous fight with the people in the writing group I was part of because they want books and story with the Standard Narative of a Novel. That is not what I want. I want to push in those places that society needs a push. Yes, that means a character may not be sympythetic but may be doing the right thing. That may mean that the law is not right or that money is not the hightest ideal. But going against the grain aint so easy, especially today.

Have fun, Jan

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Old 08-07-2012, 09:13 AM   #18
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I think this is the fundimental question of writing.

I like writing what I like. And I am sure that in the 6 billiion people on Earth some them will like it. However, I am in a continous fight with the people in the writing group I was part of because they want books and story with the Standard Narative of a Novel. That is not what I want. I want to push in those places that society needs a push. Yes, that means a character may not be sympythetic but may be doing the right thing. That may mean that the law is not right or that money is not the hightest ideal. But going against the grain aint so easy, especially today.

Have fun, Jan
And there is the possibility of an Anti-Hero being the protagonist that we cheer for certainly. You see it in some movies too, like the Death Wish films. Paul Kersey goes out and shoots muggers, which isn't something you usually see the hero do, but he's searching for those who hurt his family and fighting back against a system that lets muggers go free and so we cheer for his efforts despite the fact that he isn't the typical hero. Anyway the villain always seems to get to have more fun doesn't he. He can do anything he pleases while the hero has to work within some sort of moral/legal context usually.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:04 AM   #19
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Hm. I've made this kind of comment to various people, and, looking back, I have to say that the common factor is that the writing in question is to be found on sites for writers, and usually comes from people who say they write for themselves.

My view is that writing is a communication, and you've got to say something that's understandable. Yes, I write for myself, in the sense that I have to have an interest in the subject - otherwise I'm doing something completely pointless. But I think I have to try and interest other people in what it is I am writing about. If I have to say to someone 'what the hell are you on about?' then a polite way of saying that is to ask them who their target audience is, whom they are writing for.

The usual answer is 'I'm not interested in selling my work' which usually ends the conversation as far as I'm concerned, not because I write for money, but because what they are saying is that they're not interested in communicating. They should write a diary.

PS, I gave up using sites for writers a long time ago now.
I agree that the standard comment "I write for myself" has some short-comings. I use this comment myself because it is true: as I discussed under a separate thread, I don't expect to make money from my writing, so the only justification I can offer for spending the time on it is because it makes me happy to do so. The important thing that a writer creating under this driving force needs to accept up front is that what they create may not be acceptable to anyone else for exactly this reason.

In "On Writing", Stephen King talks of the first draft being written with the door closed (in private, no one else sees it). For me (and this is only my take on it), this is creating what works for me. Stephen King talks of writing for your Ideal Reader (in his case his wife), this is not something I really consider on my first draft, first of all I want to know if my story works for me.

Stephen King suggests that the second draft should be written with the door open (in public, others can see it). For me this is reviewing the story as an outsider might see it. Will they understand the story? Does it tell the story in a way that works for someone that can't see inside my head? At this point I can probably not argue that I am doing it only "for myself". But I only get to this point if I think what I created for myself is worthy of being shared (even if only in a limited circle).

So yes, I fully agree that - at some point - an external reader needs to be considered. My OP was really about how much you let a particular "target audience" effect what you write (as opposed just to anyone that can read the text). How much do you actively target a specific audience? I can understand doing this if you specifically write for very young or teenage audiences, but for most others I am not so certain. You may write to the tone of the genre (romance, horror, etc.) or effect (fairy-tale, historical, etc), but to a particular audience?

Last edited by gmw; 08-10-2012 at 08:18 AM. Reason: Minor edits.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:39 AM   #20
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I rethought this subject.

I write for myself, but exactly who is that?

I believe that my own tastes are acquired from reading material I like and then evolving constructively both with new material and internally in my own mind.

Now how does that relate to the "readers out there." Or maybe we should say "our customers." The readers share our universe. They read the same kind of material and they recognize what they like.

If we have chosen good authors to emulate and our interpretations have grown properly, then we will probably be able to relate to the available audience and find a customer base.

Or put another way, our tastes will be their tastes.



We will have all been assimilated.
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:04 AM   #21
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I agree that the standard comment "I write for myself" has some short-comings. I use this comment myself because it is true: as I discussed under a separate thread, I don't expect to make money from my writing, so the only justification I can offer for spending the time on it is because it makes me happy to do so.
But that is not the same as you liking what you write. I assume you can be happy writing things that you just think is OK to read.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:59 PM   #22
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...You may write to the tone of the genre (romance, horror, etc.) or effect (fairy-tale, historical, etc), but to a particular audience?
That's a valid method of writing as well. Generally speaking, readers who favor a particular genre are also familiar with the tropes of that genre, and expect it in the writing... they become a genre audience. If you're not sure about the audience, therefore, you can target the genre and achieve roughly the same results.
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:50 PM   #23
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But that is not the same as you liking what you write. I assume you can be happy writing things that you just think is OK to read.
I am happy writing, but I do not always like what I produce. Once I recognise that something I'm writing is not working (for me) the enjoyment fades and I move on to something else. So yes, I'm happiest writing what I enjoy reading, but it is also apparent that some things a person writes only have much meaning to the author (sort of like a person's holiday photos are only interesting to the person that took the holiday).
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:55 PM   #24
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That's a valid method of writing as well. Generally speaking, readers who favor a particular genre are also familiar with the tropes of that genre, and expect it in the writing... they become a genre audience. If you're not sure about the audience, therefore, you can target the genre and achieve roughly the same results.
Yes, but it is often only roughly. One of the reasons I mentioned "fairy-tale" as an "effect" rather than a genre was thinking of books like "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman, which has a distinct fairy-tale feel, almost as written for a younger audience, and yet I never really felt as if the book was not also written for myself (a long time adult). I wonder how Neil would have answered the question about his target audience. There are other's I've read that are similar in their effect.
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:54 AM   #25
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For a long time I thought I new what Hermen Hesses Steppenwolf was about, that human need humor even it only be gallows humor. But I came to a new realization today. At the end of the book when Bach or who ever is laughing at his distorted music over the radio the ture difference between the Steppenwolf and the great artist is shown. The Steppenwolf sees the flaws in the radio transmited music. The great artist has the ablity to transend the pops and crackles making the music imperfect but sees the glore of it transmited and the humilty to laugh at the distortion. The great artist love art.

The art I create is created for me. I have no contorl over who love or hates it. I will love it warts and all - that was Frankistien's problem he never loved his creation.

I've alway been a believer that things done for no reason are only things that a turly good -untainted by reason.

Today I'm so happy to reallize art is better off made for the artist and not for the critic.

Today I realized having shame for my art's flaws is to fined shame in myself.

Have fun, Jan

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Old 08-13-2012, 11:04 PM   #26
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Write for yourself? Write for your reader?

Both are correct, and neither.

If you're writing something you don't enjoy writing just because you think it will sell, you're doing something wrong. Generally if you don't enjoy writing it, your readers won't enjoy reading it.

On the other hand, too often "I write for myself" is just an excuse to not put effort into it because you're trying to console yourself ahead of time that if it's not well received, it's just because the readers don't "get it."

I've fallen into both traps at times, but fortunately it's not to difficult to keep the correct frame of mind. My rule of thumb is this:

Write a book that you'll want to read.

That will help you focus the style of the book into something that your readers can enjoy, while at the same time giving you the pleasure of writing and the motivation to make it the best you can.
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:29 PM   #27
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A lot of interesting opinions. I'd have to say, when it comes to writing longer pieces, I always go with writing that interests/inspires me the most. After it's done, I sit down and ask myself: well, who is going to read this? And another: who is going to enjoy it?

On the flip side: I've set aside writing exercises in the form of short stories--these with a definite agenda in mind--a different genre, a different setting that requires research, a different narrative point of view, writing about characters that normally I wouldn't put in a story, to try to challenge myself and broaden my scope as a writer. These are harder to put together, but definitely worthwhile.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:00 AM   #28
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I still say that the writer and the reader can't really be separated. I doubt any writer writes a book and then remarks "who are these people who read my work? I don't know them."

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Old 09-11-2012, 07:04 AM   #29
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Or better still.

"He might not like them!"


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Old 09-11-2012, 09:54 AM   #30
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I still say that the writer and the reader can't really be separated. I doubt any writer writes a book and then remarks "who are these people who read my work? I don't know them."
I do not! My books sell. I really enjoy writing my books. The lion share of reviewers like my books. I am not in the 100, and no where near living off my books, but maybe one day I will be. I am getting a steady check form Amazon and Smashwords.

That being said... I almost never hear form my readers. I have no idea what demographic I am hitting. Women? Men? Young Adults? Dogs who are closet cat lovers?

How the heck would you know? How do you see behind the next tick up on your sales count to know who it represents?

So far I have gotten a few emails, one form a college kid, and one from a 50 something woman. One a 20 something female, and another form a 50 something man. You get the idea, a wide scattering. Less then 10 readers have contacted me, and they only thing they have in common is that they read my book and have an email account.
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