Never Forget The Audience

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Who are you writing for?

This is an important question when you write. Who are you writing for? What do you want them to get out of your work? How will they be affected by your work?

No matter what kind of writing you do (unless it’s a private diary hidden in a drawer under lock and key) there will always be an audience. It could be an audience of one reader or a theatre full of expectant folks waiting to hear your words. Writing does not and cannot happen in a vaccuum.

Writing is an act of communication.  It’s a two way street.

Many writers miss this point. They’re self-involved in the process – I must express myself. I must tell my story. When a piece doesn’t go well, they blame the audience –  They’re not smart enough, they don’t understand me, they don’t get what I’m writing.

Writing is most effective when the writer focuses outward instead of inward –   I must communicate my story.  There has to be an audience. And more importantly, there has to be a relationship with the audience.

Who do you see when you think of your audience?  

Do you have a specific type of person in mind? A specific group? We are in an era where writers can easily cut out the middle man and hone in on the specifics. Your audience does not have to be a nameless faceless crowd. You can converse via twitter. You can have facebook fans. You can start your own email list and talk to them directly. Gone are the barriers between writer and audience. But it also means there’s nowhere for the writer to hide for good or for ill. Gone are the days where the writer can just sit alone in their room banging away at the old keyboard and never give their audience a second thought.

Exercise

Write a letter to your ideal audience member. How would you introduce your work to them?

 

Forgetful Nut?

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Has this ever happened to you?

You’re watching a rehearsal or a production of one of your plays, or maybe you’re reading something you’ve written. You hear a line or read a sentence and your first thought it – “Who wrote that? Did I write that? I didn’t write that – they must be throwing something new in. That must have been edited.”

This happens to me all the time. I’m watching a scene and I’m sure the actors aren’t saying my dialogue. I really like what they’re saying, it’s great stuff. But I’m sure it’s not mine.

Of course, when I go to the original material it’s totally mine. The actors are not  making something up or throwing something new in. They don’t have to, they have a script. It’s my dialogue.

So am I just a forgetful nut or is it something else?

When I watch one of my plays, I really try to become an audience member. I don’t want to be THE PLAYWRIGHT. I want to be entertained, moved, made to laugh. I want to be engaged by the theatrical experience. And that means sometimes I forget the writing process of a particular play. I think that’s good – I don’t want to be reminded of what it was like to write a play, I want to be swept away by what’s in front of me.

An audience doesn’t care about the fact that it may have taken 2 years to write something, or that you re-wrote such and such a scene 12 times. They care about the experience. And so should we.

When you read or see your work, do you remember the process, or are you engaged with the product?