Memoir Tip: Who’s In Your Audience?

by Matilda Butler on November 28, 2012

catnav-alchemy-activePost #65 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

Who Do You Write For?

I read an article in The New York Times entitled “Writing for an Imagined Audience.” The author, Christine Nelson of the Morgan Library, brought up a concept that I think is worth pursuing here on Women’s Memoirs.

I’ve included the link to the article so that you can see her comments. But I want to change the focus. While her focus is on diaries that have been written, I’d like to get you thinking about your audience. More accurately, your audiences. Let me take you through several points.

1. When you next sit to write, ask yourself, “Who am I writing this for?” Who do you want to see your words, to understand your story?

2. After you’ve answered that question, ask, “Who do I not want to read what I’m writing?” Is there anyone alive (or even dead) that you don’t want to see your words?

3. Think about how the audience you want as well as the audience (even of one) that you don’t want may influence your writing, may influence the telling of your story. Be honest with yourself. Then remember to be honest with your audience.

4. Take time now to get clarity about your audience and even realize you may have several difference audiences. Once you see how you can maintain truth in the telling of your story, you do need to consider how (not what) your writing will appeal to your intended audience. It is too easy to get caught up in thinking about ourselves rather than our audience.

5. Find your audience. Once you are clear who you want to read your story, find a photo of one person who can represent that audience for you. The photo doesn’t need to be a family member. There are many sources of photos. Once you have a picture, keep it near your desk. Look at the person and make sure you are writing in a way that will intrigue and satisfy your audience.

6. Do you keep a diary? If so, who is the audience for that writing? If it is only you, then consider the differences in the way you write those pages and the ones you are writing for your memoir.

Examine your audiences and your writing. Bringing a heightened sense of purpose to your writing will help you to better focus.

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