Non-target Readers: Why you should want them.

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Writing
Tags: , ,

So, I have ‘finished’ my multiple re-writes of my first novel. I would like to firstly thank all of my readers. Without you I would have a jumble of words that would take a universal translator to sort out.

Now, on to my thought for this post. When I first went about choosing readers I focused on just having people I trusted to give me an honest opinion. Now, I still maintain that is what you need first of all, but a happy little accident occurred as I did this. You see, out of six readers I would say that five of them were a fair representation of my target audience and one of them was not. When I got the critiques back I noticed something. In situations that I needed more description and more statement of the conflict going on in a scene my non-target reader gave me the soundest advice. Reading what she had to say forced me to actually add the bits that I inferred from being close to the work at hand. It was really eye opening.

For the other areas involving the items that were in line with my target audience I was able to focus on the advice of the other readers. In the future I want to add more readers that are non-target in order to make rewrites go even smoother.

The basic point I am trying to make here is that a non-target reader tends to be more objective because they necessarily had the same experiences as  the group that you are writing for. They are less likely to infer items that just come from being familiar. I know that I have graded my students work, understanding what their experiences were in the school, and almost given them credit for an answer that they didn’t really explain enough to earn. Thankfully I have learned how not to do this, and my students are better off for it.

Non-target readers also can allow you to write in a way that broadens you target audience. Do you know how many thirty-two year old women I know that read the “Twilight” series? You do realize that it hangs out in the YA section of both the Library and the Bookstore. It just happens to have a broad appeal.

So, the next time you find yourself looking for readers of you craft, aim a little wider than you thought you’d want to. Those that lie outside your target range have plenty to offer, and will make you a better writer in the end. Just a little writing tip for all of you.

Now, I look forward to being asked to read someone’s historical fiction involving three generations of women. Not my usual, but I bet I could add something helpful in there.

  1. Kaitlin says:

    Great point. I’ve asked people to do reading from certain stand points (for instance, I asked a friend of mine to do a feminist reading of my novel) and it produced wonderfully insightful results. But that’s a new one and I like it 🙂

  2. Marcia says:

    I adore you, Jason…you make me laugh! The historical fiction trilogy won’t be ready for a while. I will have 2-3 short stories for you to read, though. Maybe by the end of March. You will definitely be a non-target reader…one of them is erotic, all are about strong young women. They will definitely give you new insight to who I am. 🙂

    You are really good writer and I can’t wait to read the final version of your book!

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