In the movie Twitches, which usually runs on Disney channel every Halloween, the sisters Alex and Camryn are told by their guardians, Ileana and Karsh, that the girls are from another dimension called Coventry and were sent to our world to hide until they were grown-up. They are completely skeptical and Alex calls the new dimension imaginary. Ileana patiently tries to explain to her “Oh, the universe has infinite dimensions. Well, 9 . . . maybe 9 and a half. But none is more real than another.”
The same is true of entertainment. There are, as I said in my last post, 22 different audience types—well, maybe 22 and a half! —and not one of them is more REAL than the others. Nor are any of them less worth writing about. Unlike the fantasy worlds Ileana and Karsh describe, there’s really no excuse to deny their reality even for a minute. They are not bizarre planes accessed through magic. They are simply groups of people who also inhabit the Earth with us. I’ve never felt that any of them are more important or deserve VIP attention. An attitude of “Well, the first thing I have to do is write such and such book to get my career off to a good start because it’s about the important people. Then the rest can follow.” This way of writing might appeal to someone who is simply self-aggrandizing—but not to someone who actually wants to tell a story. I have not prioritized one audience over another. I just write about whichever one comes next.
I wanted to write stories like the ones I grew up reading, books that had endured the test of time. But modern books are not put together like older fiction. It was common for older novels to contain multiple audiences within one work. They would shift back and forth in intricate subplots that entertained an entirely different audience from the main plot and often introduce a third and fourth angle (occupying almost the length of an entire novella) before cycling back. Modern fiction is linear and tailored, regardless of its word or page count. The majority of books describe only one audience, primarily a projection of the reader, and lack even a basic conflict within the story because conflict occurs when another person is introduced. At least 2 audiences are needed to create some type of tension. Books based on self-centeredness fall thin very quickly.
Other authors rise above this syndrome of excessive tailoring, but while their work is well-crafted, they usually address the same couple of audiences over and over. Readers have grown to expect that authors will write for only one audience or perhaps show two in symbiosis (a better approach) for their whole careers. But there is no rule that authors must always do this. As I analyzed my work more, I found that I had included many different audiences instead of sticking to an audience base of one or two. This stemmed from my original goal—to write stories that had a wide range of audiences. Two is the minimum to create necessary depth, but it’s also the maximum allowed in one book in modern fiction. So I adjusted by writing about a couple of audiences in each book and adding different audiences in later books until I’d covered almost all of them.
This means my readers have the option to head for the book in their audience bracket, tailored in a way they are accustomed to reading—while I still have the ability to show as many audiences as I want. Yes, I will exclude readers whose motive is an exhibition of neurotic self-absorption, because those books don’t constitute a real story! With a few books still to publish, I’m well on my way to achieving the goal I set for myself all those years ago—and to achieve it within the expectations of what a modern writer should do.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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