Finding your ideal reader

I was whittling a few hours away the other day by reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ on my Kindle device (I’m a little late to this particular party, I know). I read a section in the latter third of the book that mentions having an ideal reader in mind when writing a story. At first I found this pretty silly, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me.

What a great idea. To have someone in mind as you are writing a piece, imagining what it is that will make them laugh or gasp in surprise.

I need to find one…..NOW! I thought to myself as I sat at my writing desk. But where would I find one, I mean it’s not as if you can just pick some random stranger and ask them to read your work and then give you their considered opinion on it, is it?

Actually, that idea might have some merit. At least if I presented my work to someone who I had no emotional connection with it might not feel quite so galling when they rip my all my hard work into tiny shreds with their cutting but oh-so-accurate opinions of where I went wrong……repeatedly.

I sat for hours, staring into space, pondering just who my ideal reader should be.

Like Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, I sat in my plush leather writing chair for hours……thinking, thinking that sitting in such a cramped position would mean that I would have hell to pay with my neck later in the day. Alas, that is a story for another time.3098268272_f430dc6aea_z

It wasn’t until I stopped putting so much thought into it that I realized that my ideal reader had been staring me in the face all along. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I always have one person in mind when I write, the one person that I want to impress the most with each new offering.

My ideal reader is someone who I consider a close friend, yet she is also a fantastic writer who is more than qualified to give me her considered opinion on what works and what doesn’t. I hadn’t realised until now that I wrote scenes and dialogue with the intention of making her laugh, cry, cringe, gasp in shock etc. When I wrote a scene, I asked myself if my ideal reader would think it was realistic or whether I was pulling someone too far out of character, knowing that she would rein me back in if I had

I also realized that Stephen King had a point and that perhaps I should take heed of the advice that he so graciously offers. Okay, so I had to pay for the book and his advice, but that’s beside the point.

Joking aside, finding your ideal reader is damn good idea.



Filed under Starting out

7 responses to “Finding your ideal reader

  1. What a great post! I’d read that passage in King’s book and it has stayed with me. An ideal reader is very important; I think a good one keeps a writer on top of her game. My ideal reader keeps holds me to task: because I respect her and her abilities, I am challenged to do the very best job I can. I think everyone should write with an ‘ideal reader’ in mind. I liked this post a great deal.

  2. D K Roberts

    Forgive me, Heather, for I have sinned… and never read ‘On Writing’…
    Perhaps this is advice I ought to take. Like you, though, I’ve struggled with the effort to pin down just who my ‘ideal reader’ might be. Just when you think you’ve got one, everything wriggles away and changes shape. It’s like tying shoelaces for a fidgety octopus…

    • Thanks very much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, it is very much appreciated 🙂

      I really liked the analogy you used for trying to pin down your ideal reader, I guess half the challenge is in finding that person in the first place. Once you have that, you at least have something to work from/towards.

      Good luck in finding yours, they’re out there….somewhere….

      Heather xxx

    • Thank you so much for the nomination, it is very much appreciated. I am very happy to accept the award and pass it along in due course to other bloggers.

      You have a great blog, keep up the good work!

      Heather xxx

  3. An ideal reader– that’s who I write for– someone whose energy is similar to mine, who gets me–that’s how I get through my second draft. My first draft is for myself.

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