I’ve had folks tell me over the years that they write just for themselves. Some of these individuals have even been in writing groups with me. The fact that they were in a writing group made me think they were not writing “strictly” for themselves. They were sharing stuff and taking comments. That, to me, means that they wanted their writing to connect with others. If someone were writing only for his or her own pleasure, how would anyone else ever find out? Except, perhaps, by accident.
There’s nothing at all wrong with writing for yourself. In fact, I believe this is the purest of all motives. I just can’t believe that most writing folks honestly don’t care whether they are read or not. If you’re putting it out in any public forum, I think you want someone to read it.
It hardly needs to be said that writing truly for one’s self will not earn you any money, except, perhaps, by the sheerest freak of an accident.
On the other hand, those who write for “readers” have the best chance to make truly huge sums of money. The lucky ones will be able to buy and sell the champion money makers from the other three types. But money is only one motive for those who write for readers, and often not the primary motive. These writers often say they want to “entertain.”
Writers who write to impress readers avoid fancy language. They use a simple, everyday vocabulary and mostly short sentences devoid of adornment. They keep the focus off their style and on the story. They may strive to be largely invisible to the reader. Although they don’t necessarily shirk character development, their characters often serve the needs of the story more clearly than the needs of the characters themselves. This often means that the characters are sketched more broadly than in fiction directed toward critics or other writers. These writers also make strong use of action and often utilize cliffhangers.
Again, there is nothing wrong with writing for readers. Some might even say this is the primary audience toward which all writing should be directed.
For my next, and final post in this series, I’ll make some closing comments concerning the four types of audiences, and will tell you how I feel about them. And will reveal who I write for.