According to John Steinbeck: In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know or an imagined person—and write to that one.
And that makes sense, our readers are the ones who will buy the book and then have to suffer with our words.
How can we write for our readers? Every story should offer a challenge to the reader in a form a puzzle to be solved. They want to be part of the story, given a chance to solve the mystery for themselves. (This is true no matter what genre you write.) You need to provide questions, each a mystery, each intriguing for them to answer. What will happen? Will she choose that man or the other? What's behind the attic door? Where is his wife?
Writing is like a chase. Coyote (the chaser - the reader) vs the roadrunner (the chased - the writer).
- The reader tries to catch the writer by figuring out where the story is headed. If you make your clues to obvious, the reader finds it too easy to know what will happen. The chase ends and the reader feels cheated because you haven't challenged him. Predictability = Boring!
- However, if the writer doesn't give enough clues, you are guilty of leaving too far behind. And out of the blue solutions are NO solutions. How did I arrive so fast just now? Easy, in a time machine. Please! What do you take me for? You risk the reader losing interest and giving up the chase.
- The solution? Find a course that keeps you off balance but keep the writer in sight. Precisely at the moment when the reader thinks he knows what's going to happen, something else happens that upsets his theory and forces him to come up with a new one. As your story develops be careful not to give too much away but don't delay information too long either.
- No major unanswered questions.
- No clues unaccountable.
- No characters left hanging.
- All the pieces are in place and they all fit.