“You don’t need a literary background to write. You do need something to say and a desire to learn how to control language so that you can say it as you mean it, to reach the audience you intend to inform, persuade, and/or entertain. In the end, writing is about the audience, not about the self.”
Here are some tips for writing to your audience:
Tell your readers something they want to know. People love to learn, so teach them. For non-fiction, this means submitting stories to publications geared toward your content. There are many ways to slice a story: Traveling with young children could be slanted toward a parenting magazine, toward a tourism site, or even toward a publication about cars. Each publication has a different audience, and should be written to the probable readers.
Use the language appropriate to your subject matter. If you’re writing for an audience already familiar with the technical aspects of the subject, use the technical language. But if you’re writing for a general audience, be sure to teach your audience any of the words or concepts required to gain a clear understanding of a technical subject.
Use the language appropriate to your audience’s reading level. A book for a beginning reader has a different vocabulary and uses simpler sentence structure than a philosophical treatise on the nature of existence for an academic symposium. (One of my favorite assignments was translating highly technical medical procedures about pediatric cardiomyopathy (children’s heart disease) in a way that worried parents of sick children could understand.)
Be considerate: Write clearly. Inform and entertain. And when you’re finished, stop.
Deborah Lee Luskin writes for listeners of Vermont Public Radio, readers of this writing blog, readers of personal essays in a variety of publications, and readers of literary fiction. She also writes prolifically in her journal – for herself, and not for publication.