The three pillars of content are purpose, audience and tone. Purpose why are you writing ultimately there may be more than one purpose to entertain first and foremost for all the novelists reading this. Second, it might be to scare or educate depending on your genre, and that’s just to name a few other reasons to purposes to write a novel. The next pillar is audience or who you are writing for. Last is tone, the tone of the novel. I believe that if you don’t hit one of these out of the ballpark in your novel will collapse, and can’t succeed.
Let’s look at purpose, if for argument’s sake, I wrote a book, say my normal romance genre and forgot its purpose was to entertain wrote the romance and tried to educate readers. Even a romance was heavy-handed on the education side would be a failure. You simply must be clear at all times and follow your purpose, no matter what that is. If you are writing a genre romance write it. If a piece of literature, write it and do it to the best of your abilities. Not half way.
Audience is the most important part of writing.. It was drilled in to me in college communication classes. Writing novels is communication on a grand scale. These two things are chief rules first, audience is king, and second, it’s the communicators responsibility to be understood. Not the audience’s responsibility to understand. Life is hard when you’re the one communicating it’s a big responsibility.
The third pillar is tone I saved this one for last. I once edited a book about World War II. The tone was wonderful, it everything you would expect in a book about war and then suddenly; the tone changed and it was jarring there was a sex scene or rape scene. I’m not sure, but it was unsettling uncomfortable to the point I suggested that he change the scene and make it more brutal. So, it was more clearly a rape scene. Know you have to be clear so that your audience understands what it is that you are communicating to them. And you have to know who your audience is you have to have some idea about what they are going to expect from your genre and from your book title.
One way to get an idea of your audience is to look at who is buying the type of book you are attempting to write. DO NOT WRITE FOR EVERY ONE. Take the time to figure out your tribe. Find the people who are going to love your books.
Go to the bookstore and hang out in your genre area. People watch. Go to the library and ask the librarian for help. Google it in a pinch. You’ll get remarkably exact information.
Should you care? I’ve heard it said again and again people who write for themselves write diaries, keep that in mind.
The three pillars hold the story together from the outside, they create the content. They should be part of the fodder that goes into making the imagination sauce of good story. Purpose, audience, and tone, communication is where story starts, and at its base story is communication on a grand scale.
Who is your audience? What is your favorite genre to write and how do you make sure your tone matches your intent? Let me know the answer to these and ask me questions you may have in the comment box below.
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