This morning I heard an author on NPR (don’t know who, sorry) say something to the effect that a writer should always put themselves in the place of their audience when writing. I got me to thinking (this is the part where you should run away and hide).
I do think of my audience when I’m writing, but it’s usually before I start a novel, when I’m the plotting/outlining stages. For example, I write paranormal romance. That means an HEA is a must or I will be strung up by my neck by my readers and left to die a slow, choking death. There also other considerations when crafting a story for the romance reader that I always take into account when plotting and planning. Sexual tension, placement of love scene, character development, ect…
But once I start writing, I’m really not thinking about y’all anymore. At least, not when I’m sitting there looking at my MS. When I write, I’m not in the head of my audience; I’m in the head of the POV character I’m writing at that moment.
Creative visualization is a must-have tool for a fiction writer. The ability to place yourself in the environment your character is in, to smell what they smell, see what they see, hear what they hear. The hardest thing about this is, of course, thinking the way they think because those characters are not you. They have different backgrounds, different ways of seeing the world, are driven to make decisions differently than you would. The mark of a skilled writer is getting the reader to believe the characters, but in order to do that (in my opinion) the writer has to be fully in the head of the character, not the reader, when they’re writing.
This is on my mind right now because I’m writing an especially tricky character. It’s easier when a character is sort of like me. I can name a few of my heroines to whom, were they real people, I’d probably relate pretty well. Then there are characters like, oh, Daria from The Chosen Sin, who are so different from me that they’re a real challenge to write. That’s okay, I like challenges. Prefer them, in fact. Makes the experience more interesting.
Sometimes people tell me that my writing is personal wish fulfillment. This is the comment non-writers make. My characters are not fulfilling wishes I have. They are entities unto themselves, living out their lives in my imagination. I see the world I’ve created from their perspective which is usually pretty different from my own.
So, you see, as much as I love you all and appreciate the absolute hell out of you and HOPE like a crazy person you like the end result, I am not thinking of you when I’m writing. Or of myself, for that matter. I’m only thinking of the fictional character on the page and trying to get them right.