How Knowing Your Ideal Reader Enhances Your Writing Voice by Hope Stansberry
Much like finding the why when we first begin writing, we also need to know who we’re writing for. But first, why is that important?
Conversation is easy when you know what type of personality someone has and how they’ll react to certain topics because when you have similar tastes and interests, you don’t struggle as much when thinking of what to say next. This comes when you build trust and relatability.
On the other hand, speaking to someone you don’t know can be significantly more challenging. (Who else hates small talk?) It’s harder to talk to someone when you know nothing about them because there’s no point of relation. The instant you find something you both have in common, conversation begins to come easier because you’ve bridged the gap between your differences.
In terms of writing, it’s the same concept. When you know who your ideal reader is, you’ll be able to write naturally and talk directly to their specific interests, demographics, sense of humor, etc. which will make your readers love your book even more! This builds relatability.
We as humans crave connection so when we can relate to a person, it triggers a chain-reaction of emotional responses. The wiring of our most primal brains was designed to recognize an object as being safe based on the similarities shared. This was how we could tell apart what was “danger” and what was “safe,” thus building trust in the object or person in question. In this case, you. As your readers get to know you through your work, they will begin to build a trust in you and the type of stories you create.
Trust + Relatability = Reader Loyalty
Bonus Tip: Learning a little bit of Psychology 101 is a GREAT idea for a writer in terms of character creation and creating a solid reader following. If you can provoke any kind of deep emotional response from your reader, you’re on the right track!
To find out who your reader is, I’m going to have to talk a little bit of business.
Some companies use something called an Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) to help pinpoint who their ideal customers would be. This is usually a series of questions similar to character building lists. By making these lists, they learn what their ICA’s pain-points are, what their interests are, and how their service can help them. This information allows companies to market their product or service in a way that will attract the customers they’re better able to serve. As a writer, you should know your Ideal Reader Avatar for any work you do.
To find your IRA, you’re going to essentially be doing the same thing as in business, but with fewer questions to get you started. (If you want an IRA Builder Questionnaire to help you seriously pinpoint who you’re writing for, click HERE!)
1. What is the theme or plot of your story?
2. Which genre does it fit into? (YA, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Crime, Romance, Erotica, Horror/Paranormal, Suspense/Thriller, Fantasy, Dystopia, Historical, Western, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary/New Adult)
3. Which demographics are represented in your book? (religious beliefs, political affiliation, nationality/ethnicity, disabilities, social class)
4. What will the reader gain from reading it? (entertainment, education, inspiration)
For the sake of this example, let’s say you’re writing a YA Fantasy novel about young space pirates and an intergalactic heist. You believe this book would be great for middle school students because the character cast are all under the age of fifteen and the story carries strong themes of friendship and adventure. Your main character—a double-eye-patch-wearing pirate nicknamed "Mole”—is a huge fan of the Lakers basketball team.
By knowing this information, you can start to see who your ideal reader might be. For this example, the ideal reader would be eleven—fourteen years old interested in entertaining space adventures and basketball. They can relate to Mole’s unique character demographic because they have experienced some form of blindness in their life from the first-hand experience or knowing someone without the ability to see. Stories centred around friendship tend to grasp their attention.
Now that you have a basic IRA, you’ll never run out of things to write about because you know who you’re writing for! This will help you write confidently and naturally and make your narrative voice stronger.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your IRA Builder Questionnaire to discover who your ideal reader really is!
Morrighan Publishing—Where Your Words Come to Life