By Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
Write just for one person. It’s common advice given to writers looking to develop a unique voice and cultivate a relationship with their target audience. Reduce the nameless, faceless mass of potential readers to exactly one person you have to satisfy with your book.
Have you found “The One”?
Let me share how I found mine. I used to write to an imaginary friend in the mid-range of my target audience who happened to be a lot like me—an open-minded liberal female in her late twenties—but that presented a tiny problem.
My imaginary The One didn’t find much wrong with my writing. Dull dialogue, unrealistic characters, purple prose and all kinds of bad writing habits got past her because I was only writing to satisfy myself, and it turns out myself isn’t very discriminatory when it comes to my own work. I needed a critic.
I pictured my seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Lenore. I could see her in my head as vividly as the first day of class when she lifted a slender blond brow at my journal entry and gave me a bare half-smile before telling me it needed brushing up. As my The One, I gave Mrs. Lenore more severity than the poor, dear woman probably deserved.
I wound up lacking confidence and second-guessing everything I put to page. I was being too hard on myself and not getting much accomplished.
And, then Goldilocks sat at Baby Bear’s porridge and said, “This is just right!” Just kidding.
It took me years of trial and error to figure out The One (for me) couldn’t be fictitious or over-exaggerated. I met a client we shall call Mr. Perfect Client who was initially skeptical about hiring me. When he reached out with a potential job offer, I jumped at the opportunity to add to my growing list of Elance customers, but he didn’t close the deal. He followed up to tell me he had hired someone else.
The nerve! I was outraged! Okay, not outraged. I already had a lot on my plate at that point. Losing one potential client was almost a godsend. However, a couple of months later he came back to say the other writer hadn’t worked out. Well, naturally, I was determined to show him he should’ve stuck with me in the first place.
From interview to start date, I went in swinging with the intent to impress this guy. If he wanted a story with cowardly lions and flying monkeys, then I’d give him that, PLUS a tornado! 😉 My determination to prove myself (and his to give me a shot) led to us working together as a solid, dependable team for approaching a year now.
Mr. Perfect Client became my The One: Someone who knows my capabilities but challenges me to do even better. This dynamic makes for the perfect reader. So, now when I sit down to work on personal projects, I consider what he might say about my outline and character development. He has a knack for showing me the weak spots. Then, as I write, I picture myself handing the manuscript over to him when I’m done.
As you can see, there are some strange places to find “The One,” from inside your head, to your past, to someone you haven’t even met yet. Look for someone who:
- Recognizes your strengths and weaknesses and challenges you to see them. This means listening to that tiny voice that whispers throwing in a mermaid to give things a twist isn’t believable. Don’t override that voice.
- Gives potential solutions when they find a problem with your work. You’ll find yourself wondering “What Would The One Say?” Take their imaginary advice.
- Holds you to your word count goals and deadlines. The One should be someone you don’t want to keep waiting.
- Expects you to self-edit. Poor mechanics and lazy technique shouldn’t be acceptable, not even to the invisible person in your head, much less to you.
When you go into writing knowing The One for whom you’re writing, you’ll come out with a story that actually satisfies millions of readers. Now, that’s what I call a match made in heaven. Get to work finding your The One today, or tell me about The One you’ve already found in the comment section below. You can also Tweet me @WIRUniverse, #StrangePlacesToFindTheOne