Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who are you writing for?

John Steinbeck gave us 6 "rules" for writing.  I've read them several times in different places but there's a difference between knowing something and knowing it.  Yesterday I read them again.  I can't remember all six.  In fact, I can only remember 1.  Probably because I've heard variations on the other 5 so many times that it all sort of runs together.

That rule I remember?  Forget about your audience.  It doesn't exist.  Reading is a solitary action and everyone has a different experience.  So pick one person and write for that person.   Just that person.

I've got a short story going that was struggling from trying to sound literary.  How silly.  It needs to sound like me telling a story to someone.  Someone specific.

Steven King wrote about this in his book -- I have a tickling memory that he actually quoted Steinbeck -- and added the concept of "first reader."  You don't have to write for your first reader, but you need to write for one person.  Even if that person isn't someone you know, or someone who is even alive.  It will keep your story focused.

I remember another of his rules -- always say your dialogue aloud -- but I'd forgotten because I've always done that.  I hope you have too.

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