Know Thy Audience…
If you followed my previous post, you would have noticed the extra emphasis I put on knowing yourself. If you are a writer, a dancer, a singer, or any other performer, you have to remember that there would always be an audience. You have to figure out your audience before they figure you out.
Let’s consider the scenario where you are writing the same story for three different groups of people. The first group consists of kindergarteners from your locality. The second group consists of your friends. The third group consists of your grandparents and their cronies. Your approach to each story has to differ in order to capture the attention of the particular set of audience.
Your kindergarten story, or ‘performance’ as I like to call it, would involve triggering their imagination. At the risk of sounding anti-child-intellectualist, if I am the writer, I would go and assume that I have to concentrate on fantasy more than facts. The facts that I mention here are basically realistic fiction elements. And once you capture their imagination, and attention, you have to hold it. You have to create a sense of belonging within the story for them. You have to place in situations and attributes that the average child would relate to. You have to create emphasis on the grandeur whilst keeping it very simple. You may require illustrations in your work to inspire visuals within your story. At this point let’s move to our next group, a friend circle.
Your friend circle would most probably include peers of your own age group. You might belong to the same ‘generation’ as them. This means that you are exposed to the same environmental triggers as they are. This puts you in a very tricky space. This space is like getting a pretty good hand in poker.
You have to bluff to keep them guessing.
You don’t give away your intent or they might just ‘fold’ and loose interest. You have to create curiosity among them about your actions. You have to draw them in. This you would do with caution, if you seem too eager they might, again, ‘fold’. You have to involve them without making it obvious. You have to make them commit to the story before you go ‘all-in’. Although you can hold back and ‘raise’ the interest if you are sure that you still have some Aces up your sleeve for extended play. The tricky part, as I mentioned earlier, comes from two factors; One, your audience here would bestow upon you a level of trust that stems through the virtue of being in the same generational bracket as the; Two, they might as well be inclined to dismiss your opinion as the expectations from it would be higher than that from an ‘outsider’. You should use your position to the fullest, and tie a tale around them that they end-up loving.
The next audience group, your grandparents and their cronies, would need a more mature effort from you. Your assumptions for this category would mainly revolve around one theme. They probably know about far more things than you would give them credit for. And to make it worse, they know this and would have already assume that you would not give them credit anyway. The key to solving this deadlock is honesty. Make your story as honest as possible. This doesn’t imply that you leave out elements of fantasy and fiction. Quite the contrary, the elder folk might surprise you with their affinity for imagination. You can use their knowledge and experience of life to your advantage. You just have to make the story as relatable as possible. Honesty, as I pointed out, is the key here. Honesty, here, implies clarity of emotions and thoughts.
Don’t force elements in your story, let them germinate and continue to fruition.
You can bring surprise, shock, and awe in your story, but make sure that they build from the story. It is always advisable to follow a simple linear story line with an imaginative and lucid writing style.
You may have observed that there are as many similarities in the different styles mentioned as there are differences.
You have to realize, there is a kid, a teenager, an adult, and an elder in all of us.
You can choose to connect to any such part of any individual with your story. You can even merge genres and create an epic storyline that transgresses generations. At the core of it, always know yourself, know your audience, and… know your story.