As I start brainstorming new ideas for my next writing project, I’ve found myself wondering: Will anyone want to read this?
It’s a little odd, for me, since this is not a question I usually bother with. My more typical “interrogative sentences, phrases, or gestures” are:
– Who is this story about?
– What are they doing?
– Why are they doing that?
– Do I care about this, yet? Alright, then what’s next?
– How can I work XYZ in?
– Ooh, wait – what if…?!
– What goes horrifically wrong?
– How do they feel about that?
– How do they deal with it?
– Wait, does that make any sense? Okay, good, it’s explainable. So now what?
– How many miles between Vegas and Yellowstone, again?
– How in the world does this end?
Any thoughts about my future audience will run more along these lines:
– When and how do I plant this clue so they won’t see the surprise coming, but it won’t feel out of the blue?
– Are people going to be able to empathize with this character?
– Will they have any chance in heck of pronouncing this name correctly?
For the most part, though, I don’t think much about the readers while writing, other than to remind myself to keep the book readable. The first reader I’m aiming to please is me, since I’ll probably be spending more time with this book than anyone. The second is Tirzah, since she’s my writing buddy/beta tester/soul sister and practically has joint custody of some of my characters.
Beyond that, yeah, I’d love to have more satisfied readers than an audience of two. But I can’t predict what everyone will like. And even if I did, I don’t know that I’d let that dictate my writing.
If all I wanted was to sell books, it would be a different story. Then it would be mostly, or possibly all, about writing what a big chunk of the population would want to read. And there would be nothing wrong with that, if selling books were my first goal. But it isn’t.
My first goal is to write stories I love. My second goal is to have other people love them, too. Goal 2.2 involves making money off of that love, and Goal 3 involves Walt Disney Animation Studios and Broadway.
So maybe I’m asking myself the wrong question, at this brainstorming stage. Maybe what I need to be asking is:
– How can I thrill myself?
– Which characters will I want to hang out with forever?
– What book can I pull out of me that will make me so super proud that I wrote it?
Selfish-seeming questions, on the surface. But I believe that the best work comes forward when the artist’s heart is wholly behind it. In the end, my readers will be far better off for my thinking of them second.
Back to thinking of first things first, then: Who is this story about?…