Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who's Coming to Dinner?

I did a lot of cooking over the holidays. I'm a good cook, and I love preparing meals, especially when I know what foods people like and what they don't like. Nothing makes me happier than cooking for an "audience."

That's what so frustrating about writing. I'm not sure who my audience is. I can't get the"dish" just right. It's as if I'm whipping up a splendid broccoli souffle, only to be told, "I don't eat anything green." Or knocking myself out on slow cooked salmon, only to hear "I don't eat anything with eyes." Should I care? I mean, how does a writer know who's coming to dinner?


  1. Good post Linda. It's so hard to judge it right -- how to please the children, the agents, the editors, and the critique group!
    I sometimes try to imagine one child of the age I think I'm writing for, and I try to write as if I were speaking to them. But as with cooking, people have different tastes, and I haven't found the right 'recipe' yet.

  2. That is the question - how to please so many appetites. As writers we should be directing the story to the child reader, but there are so many reviewers before the book reaches the child. We need to find a balanced meal appealing to many different tastes - and its not easy - but it is fun ...and a challenge! Mild or spicy, creamy or crisp?

  3. We writers have to make a lot of decisions once we open up our work for review. The important thing to remember is that the work still belongs to the writer. No one book will be everyone's favorite. Some people hated Harry Potter or were bored by Hunger Games, yet they were huge successes.

    The important thing is listening to valid critiques, but realizing you are under no obligation to change your work based on them. Only revise what you believe strengthens your work.

  4. Great question, Linda! For me, I think that even though I have a good sense of children the age I write for, I still really write for my own inner child.

    And I completely agree with J.A. If we try to write for everybody, we end up writing for nobody.

    Once we can answer, "Who's coming for dinner?", we really have started to get to the heart of our story.

    Great post!

  5. Linda,
    I love your analogy!
    On a slightly different tack, somewhere I read an author's comment that you can't throw open the window and shout to the world expecting to please everyone.
    First, you have to please yourself and then hope your words will find an appreciative audience.