One question that seems to come up again and again in writing forums or books of writing advice is; ‘who are you writing for?’ I guess in most instances they are talking about your ideal reader, as in ‘when you write, who do you wish would read it?’. If that was the intent of the question, I’d say that most of the time I’m imagining myself reading the story as though I had no idea what was going to happen next (don’t tell anyone that I frequently don’t know what’s going to happen next until it’s actually ‘happened’). Choosing someone else as the ideal reader seems presumptuous to me somehow. I guess any reader I got would be ideal.
Anyway, the question also got me thinking about who you are writing for in a more commercial sense. I mean, all the people out there writing short stories that are hard to place or literary novels that have no easy hook are regularly told that their market is shrinking and that they should be thinking more about using their talents elsewhere. But I don’t think it’s that easy. Or that it should be.
Nice work if you can get it, I say. If I thought I’d be good at writing compelling computer games or exciting comics then I’d be doing it. When it comes to crossing genre into ‘growth’ areas for the jobbing writer all I can think is that you need a special kind of talent to be able to write for one genre and skip to another because it’s more popular at the moment.
The writers of comics don’t often start doing it just because they want a quick buck and are trying to be commercial, they do it because the love the immediacy of the form. Just as lit fict writers are enamoured with the style and shape of ‘literary prose’.
This leads me to the depressing idea that, in the commercial sense, I’m probably writing for exactly the same number of people I was in the non-commercial sense. One – and that’s me! 🙂