Monday, 25 January 2010

Write for YOUR audience. Know who it is.


(Picture: From a party I was at yesterday night, the setting was gorgeous... thought I would share.)

(Also, I won the Honest Scrap Award, my 7 things are listed on my right sidebar. I will give the award to 7 others that haven't received one yet.)

Anyway...
Yesterday, I wrote a chapter about a woman who suffered for years with spousal rape and fed up, took a vacation to Mexico and killed her husband.

An odd thing occurred: six people reviewed the work, all three of the men hated it, all three of the women loved it. Even though the woman committed the horrible act of murder, they could relate to the character.

Now, I don't in any way condone killing. I don't agree with what my character has done, I think she, in her mind, felt she was justified, but, I thought it interesting that I had such different comments from women and men. So it made me think, writers know they can't please all readers. No matter how many times you edit your work to what you view is perfection, someone will not like it.

However, you should know who you're writing to, and write to them. When you figure out your demographic find out what they like. How? Ask readers of that genre to give feedback. Maybe your mom or dad isn't your demographic. I know my mom wouldn't like the chapter I wrote, in fact, if she read it, she might suggest I enter a mental institution. So... make sure you get feedback from those who would spend the money buying the book.

Just my thoughts.

Oh, and if you want to read the chapter, it's below. (Remember, it hasn't been edited. Warning: May contain disturbing content.)


I sat across the table from my husband as he suffocated. I’d never watched anyone die before; I’ve never seen him so completely helpless and scared. It felt oddly enthralling.

It’s difficult to recall in what order events happened because they mix up in your mind. He pushed his plate to the floor as he tried to stand, and a chunk of seasoned potato rolled under the bed. At the time, I debated whether to pick the piece up so it wouldn’t rot there but, in the end, I was glad I held back. How would I explain my actions to the police? Policia. In Mexico, they’re called Policia.

Your husband was dying and you searched under the bed for food?

Nonsense.

At some time before he dropped to the floor, music registered in my mind – the twang from the Mariachi guitars. A band in black and white embroidered outfits walked along the beach, playing songs for the couples willing to throw a few Pesos their way, I could hear them singing words I could not understand.

I knelt beside him on the floor and he grabbed my hand. His lips moved but no words escaped. It didn’t matter; I knew what he asked for. I looked towards the bed, he pointed at the neatly piled suitcases. The key to his salvation sat below two shirts – in a tidy shaving kit.

I debated.

The curtains that covered the patio drifted into the room. The heat and the smell of salty ocean air blew across my face. The shadow of palm trees outlined on the sheer drapes. A paradisaic place if not for the stench of approaching death.

The helpless man begged me for his life. I looked down into his soft brown eyes, his pleading eyes. The happy moments flooded back to my mind... if only briefly. So long ago. Over time, hatred crowded out the kind. Where did my husband go, the one I married?

I stood from my chair and walked to the suitcases. I reached in the kit and pulled out the syringe of epinephrine. It wasn’t weakness; it was planning. I had to feign effort, I had to try to save his abusive ass. I counted to five and turned around. He lay on the floor now, his fingernails scratching at the tile floor.

With the needle in hand, I knelt beside him. His movements had lessened. I plunged the needle into his thigh, counted to three, and shot its contents into him.

Nothing.

After staring at his hollow eyes for a while, I walked to the phone, dialled the front desk and said one word, ‘Ambulencia.’Then I went and opened my hotel room door. The breeze entered full force and I kicked down the door stop.

As I knelt by him again, I thought I should feel something. Perhaps, guilt or sadness or horror or fear. I felt nothing. Not even relief or elation. Nothing. I picked up his hand and uncurled the fingers on his a tanned hands. I outlined the lines of his palm and whispered, 'I loved you once.'

I was surprised how quick the police and ambulance arrived. Perhaps, I wasn’t. I left the syringe in his leg, I left my vomit on the bathroom floor, I left my mind and heart in that hotel room.

Allergic to shrimp. Accidente, they declared, and turned my husband to ash.

24 comments:

Kimberly Franklin said...

Ann, you are so right. Knowing your audience is a must. However, it doesn't matter if you wrote the most perfect MS in the universe, someone out there won't like it. And, that's okay. Because for every person who doesn't, there are probably three or four to will. : )

Kimberly Franklin said...

Or, maybe more. LOL. Sorry kind of blanked out there.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Exactly. I've stopped trying to please everyone. I think, 'who will read this book', and write to them.

ann

Jen said...

Words to live by "Now your audience"... byt the way I am with the women, this chapter is really good.

I remind myself that not everyone will like my book, and that is okay, I should just go with what my audience really enjoys and stick with that... they are the one's who would buy it!

arlee bird said...

I was discussing with my sister the other about BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, book and movie-- she loved both of them and back when they first came out she convinced me to read the book and see the movie -- I hated both of them. They are one of her most favorite books and movies. They are among my least.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Jen, thanks. I'm not even sure I'll write the book because I have too many projects on the go but, it opened my eyes.

Arlee bird, I agree. My sister recommends books all the time and often I can't get through them.

ann

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

First feliciations on the award and now for the rest. It was good. Gripping even if a little grim in subject. I wonder though how she will live with it.
Warm regards,
Simone

cassandrajade said...

Great advice. Though sometimes it is useful to get advice from people who don't like the type of story you are writing. They don't like the work anyway so they feel a bit more free to be critical and sometimes they notice things that people who like that type of story have just glanced over.
Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Parents sometimes aren't the best first readers! Depends on the content, of course.

Great chapter!

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Ann Elle Altman said...

Simone, thanks for your comment, I think this project, if I take it up will be a year or two in the future but I think it should be a topic discussed more often because it affects so many people.

Cassandra, thanks, and I agree with you. We have to take criticism kindly but digest where it comes from.

Elizabeth, I agree about the parents! I'm sure I would get a lecture on this chapter.

ann

Tamika: said...

Great piece of advice, I'm glad I found your blog.

I actually enjoyed the excerpt- not bad for no editing.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Tamika, glad you like the blog. I will continue to work had making the blog worth reading.

ann

Fez Slurman said...

Nice work...but Ann, if you are married I really hope your husband isn't allergic to anything. :)
Fez

Ann Elle Altman said...

Fez, thank you. And no, my husband isn't in any danger.

ann

Emma Michaels said...

Yeay Thank you for grabbing my button and following!!! Love your blog!

Corra McFeydon said...

I read this chapter at the site the night you posted it. I loved it and couldn't believe some of the reviews?

You're so right about listening to the correct readership. That was my first mistake at TNBW; I listened to everybody.

Corra

from the desk of a writer

Ann Elle Altman said...

Corra, I take all reviews with a grain of salt. IF the majority of people, man, woman, older, younger, give me similar advice, I should take it. If it's one lone gunman...well, I'll digest but reconsider.

ann

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