Writers of non-fiction, especially non-fiction that isn’t biographical in nature, might look at this article and frown. “I don’t have a character to describe.” Except that’s where you’re wrong. This post poses a double-benefit for writers; not only will you be writing – forcing yourself to write something that you know makes sense, because it is your character after all –you’ll also be developing the key skills of identifying your target audience.
Let’s clarify here; in this article, everyone will be provided with the tool to recognising your target audience for your writing. Consider that your “character”, whatever you write. This same tool is also beneficial to fiction writers, as it helps us to understand everything about our characters, from the physical to the psychological. Write the answers to each of these questions, and you’ll be on your way towards (a) identifying the key traits of your “character”, and (b) defeating Writer’s Block.
- What does your character look like? (Include all relevant information, such as: height, body type, hair colour, ethnicity, distinguishing features, etc.)
- What level of education does your character have?
- Is your character religious? (What is his/her faith status?)
- What does your character do for a living?
- Where does your character live? (Country, city, town; type of housing)
- What does your character aspire towards?
- What can your character do to achieve his/her goal?
- What is your character afraid of? Does he/she have an obstacle in their path?
- What can your character do to overcome his/her fear or obstacle?
- If you could say one thing to your character, what would it be?
Answering those ten areas cover the basics of understanding your target audience, and understanding your character in more detail. The longer your answers, and the more you consider when writing them, the greater your understanding and knowledge will be. Every question is specifically tailored to help identify different aspects of a person’s life that you should take into consideration. The more obvious exceptions are some the physical traits your character possesses, though certain things are significant: your character’s gender, age and body type. Marketers, especially of beauty or dietary products and services, target people of a specific gender, age and body type. Ethnicity and height may not be an issue.
Action Time! Take your answers to the questions above, and write a paragraph about your character.
Pick out the specific points that will be of interest to you for your story or marketing. Make the paragraph short and to the point; it will serve as the summary of your character’s identity.
With that done, you should be able to continue writing, and more effectively. Not only does it help to understand who a protagonist in a story is, it also helps everyone to know who they are writing for. Your target audience plays a massive consideration on the tone and language you should use, and knowing who you’re writing for helps to concentrate your efforts in a very specific way.