The Ideal Reader

Let me start this piece by apologizing if it is sloppy, disorganized or rambly. I am in my school’s library because I needed a quiet place, but it has been anything but. Who knew people came to the library to carry on the loudest conversations possible, and set off the alarms of emergency exits, which are clearly marked “Keep Closed Alarm Will Sound.”

Anyway. . .

For those of you somewhat familiar with me and my writing process, you know the book I thump around like my bible is Stephen King’s memoir On Writing41cqe00ZzsL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.

One piece of advice he gives, which I always remembered but have never fully implemented is the importance of an ideal reader. For him, his ideal reader has and always will be his wife Tabitha. What this means is he asks himself, while writing, how Tabitha would feel about it. She is always the first person to read his work and, from what I’ve gathered, outside of his editors, her opinion matters the most.

Why is this beneficial? As the old saying goes, if you try to please everyone, you’ll please no one. Think about how exhausting and unproductive it is to write a book that everyone would love. Is something so impossible really worth the effort? It’s important to know your audience. That being said, sometimes, for me anyway, thinking of an intended audience can be overwhelming. When I see an audience as a bunch of faceless readers (well if I’m lucky there will be a bunch of them) my mind naturally assumes they all have different tastes and automatically begins trying to please them all. What I ended up with is a diluted piece of garbage.

Lately, I have been trying to actually follow the advice I’ve been told. Radical I know. I have been focusing on one ideal reader to please because, despite our best efforts to be different, people all around the world share similar experiences. Not everyone, but if you can resonate with just one reader, chances are you are resonating with every reader who has the same nostalgia, same high school experiences, same theories on the afterlife or trust issues etc. You end up reaching a large audience by focusing on just one person. That is a lot more manageable than starting with a large audience and funneling down to a specific channel.

I wanted to share these thoughts because this is something I am personally working on, and that means (based on the above paragraph) chances are there are a lot of other writers out there dealing with the same thing.

Anyway, thank you for reading.


6 thoughts on “The Ideal Reader

  1. I have heard this advice before too and I’ve never followed it. I’ve also heard to “only write for yourself” or even how to write to please certain publishers, which is a whole topic in itself. I think that I will actually try this technique because it seems like the most sound advice yet – and who would know better than Stephen King? Thanks for sharing and happy writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for writing this! I read On Writing as well and King has SO much awesome advice that I can only hope will someday all work themselves into my work. I should also think more about my ideal reader as I write, so thank you for the reminder! Happy writing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed!! I’ve been watching a lot of Stephen King’s talks on YouTube and he has so much awesome stuff to say about writing. And he’s funny, too! Absolutely one of my favorite authors.

        Liked by 1 person

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