Thursday, December 09, 2010

I get you


Have you ever gone to a blog, read the post, and thought, “What on earth are they talking about? I don’t get them at all?”

Hopefully that doesn’t happen here too often. (okay, I know it does but play along.)

I do try hard to write for my readers, to make my posts easy to relate to. I don’t write about zoos or how to build a house because most of you could care less about those topics. You want to read about my latest rejection or a how I dumped all my metaphors or what I really think about my critique partners. (love you ladies!)

So where am I going with this?

I’ve been busy preparing for the workshop I’m presenting in Spokane on March 19th. I’ll be teaching on how to write a selling short story—Chicken Soup style. Yes, you may still sign up and watch me create an aha moment.

My opening point is this: In order to write a good story, you need to know who your reader is. You want him to be able to relate to your story. From the very first sentence.

Have you also ever noticed how you might love a blog for awhile and then drift away from it? The blogger probably changed his focus onto a subject you can’t relate to at all. It happens.

But when you’re choosing to write for a specific market, you need to know who will be reading it and then tailor the work to that reader.

Easy-peasy.

Are you writing relevant posts for your reader?

51 comments:

Linda O'Connell said...

Another thing to keep in mind is that 'eighth grade reading level', avoid the fifty cent words and write plain speak as though you are sitting in someone's kitchen talking to them. I have been published in twelve CS books. Humor helps too, We have all had shared experiences and readers want to feel that connection.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Wow, I sure hope so. I try to. I think about my readers a lot and even laugh sometimes while constructing a post (I guess I'm having an imaginary conversation w/ some in my head.) :D

~ Wendy

Susan Roux said...

Probably not, but they come anyway...

So cool you'll be teaching a workshop.

Catherine West said...

Hmm, Teri. Interesting. I've struggled with blogging for a lot of years, but the past few months I've finally started to feel like I'm getting it. I focus on writing, how it relates to me and my personal journey, with a bit of my personality thrown in for good measure. I don't know whether it's working or not - I hope so. I have tried to think of more interesting things to do and say on my blog, but it's not that easy. Basically I'm a what you see is what you get kind of person, so I guess my blog is a reflection of that. One thing I've learned is that it's important to engage your readers and interact with them. If you don't want to hear what they have to say, why should they come back?
I love your blog and "I Get You" !

Heather Sunseri said...

Definitely something to think about, Terri. I hope I mostly post things that people "get," which doesn't necessarily mean they agree with me, but I hope they at least get it and I give them something to think about.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, Terri, I hope so. I think I've changed my focus from "All about me and my life" to "What About YOU?"

Your posts are always relevant.

Love,
Jen

Joanne Sher said...

I HOPE I do. (and I agree with Jen - I ALWAYS get something from your posts) I also wonder if I have the right audience for my "larger" writing. But I'm plodding away :)

irishoma said...

I hope I'm writing what my readers want. A good way for me to judge is by the number of comments I receive. Generally I receive a lot of comments when I post about personal experiences or have a giveaway.
Congratulations on your workshop. Sounds like fun!
Donna v.
http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com

Julie Jarnagin said...

As a newly contracted writer, I struggle with who my blog readers are. Most of my current followers are writers, but many people say we should blog for the people who will be our readers. Obviously, writers read too, but it makes me wonder if I should cut back on writing related posts for more general blog posts. Then again, authors like Jody Hedlund have had great success with writing blogs. Interesting topic!

Cheryl Klarich said...

Great post!
I've slid into a "mainly reviews" blog... I hope to branch out in the new year!!!

Jan Cline said...

I've been trying harder at this lately. I took a good look at the blogs I read all the way through and saw that they were writing things I wanted to read. So I looked at my followers list and most of them are writers and/or Christians. No brainer....
And I like your opening. Cant wait to hear the rest. I'l try not to put our workshops back to back so we can hear each others!

Katie Ganshert said...

This is great advice. Something I'm currently wrestling with right now.

Melissa Marsh said...

I try to. My blog is a mish-mash of personal stuff and posts about writing. So I hope people enjoy it. :-)

Lin Floyd said...

important point, I write a weekly column in my town and I'm changing the focus slowly from my life to the reader writing about their life...hoping not to loose any readers...I also put my articles on my blog which is a collection or my articles, poetry, family stuff and other comments. I know if it works cause I get lots of comments or none! lol...

Mary E Hanks said...

Terri, great thoughts! Thanks for a good piece on the "whys" of blogging. I am new to blogging. A late bloomer--hehehe. For me, when I'm reading blogs, I like to hear people's personal stories, both tragedies and joys. Stories speak to my heart, and I feel like I'm getting to know the writer through their life's story--what matters to them, what they care about, what bothers them, what ministry they are interested in, etc. Even though I appreciate all of the training/writing blogs, the stories are my favorite. And the ones that speak to my heart, even better!

Deb Shucka said...

The challenge is being aware of audience without allowing a need to please to muddy the story needing to be told. I'm so excited for your workshop - wish I could be there to see it.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Hmmmm....food for thought.

I'm not sure why folks stop by my blog, maybe they just want to get a glimpse of a hormonal souther woman standing at her stove pondering the meaning of life while I juggle wifely, motherly, godly woman type things....

Let just hope I don't drop my bible dictionary in the soup and bring my cook book to bible study.

We love your questions!
R

Carol J. Garvin said...

Good points here, Terri. Blogging is a very individual thing, both from the writer's and the reader's perspectives. When I'm reading I search out blogs that reveal the blogger's personality and a compatible philosophy on a variety of subjects, not just writing, since as a person I am more than just a writer. I enjoy when the blogger interacts with readers but I'm most interested in the message.

My blog usually includes my reflections as a Christian writer, sometimes on personal things, sometimes on writing, and it's other writers who seem to comment most often. There's no way to know who the non-commenting visitors are but the visits increase when my topic is writing related. To answer your question, I'd have to say I haven't given a lot of thought to whether or not I relate to particular readers. I try to be myself and hope my words attract those who like my style.

Rhonda Schrock said...

I hope so. Wish there was a good measuring stick, an up-or-down vote, or something concrete to let me know that.

I guess as long as people are coming back and laughing/crying with me, it's relevant, at least to some???

You have a great following. Obviously you're right on track.

Love ya,

Rhonda

Susan R. Mills said...

Well, gosh, I certainly hope so, but you've got me wondering. I always love coming by here, though!

Susan said...

Oh gosh, Terri, I sure HOPE I'm writing posts that the readers can relate to. I love fellow bloggers and enjoy reading blogs as well as having people visit to read mine. By the way, whenever you visit, it makes me so happy! Good luck at the conference. I'm sure you will be a riveting speaker! Wish I could go. Susan

Technonana said...

Thanks for this 'teachable' moment!! Lately I have had several thoughts for what I wanted to write about, but TIME has gotten away from me!!
One day, I will get back to it, and keep these tips in mind!!
Thanks, Sista

Patti said...

I hope I am.

Jill Kemerer said...

Everyone who signs up for your workshop is in for a treat! This is such good advice. Thank you!

Jennie Allen said...

Sometimes my head lives in the clouds and I have to pull my feet down to touch the earth to help the two connect.

Brock S. Henning said...

Terri, this post is very timely for me. I've been reading a bunch on the blogger-reader relationship. Great stuff, and I'm taking notes! :)

Sally Napthali said...

Who is the audience for your blog?
Is it writer's, hurting people, a christian, someone who's not a Christian.

I don't always know, maybe I should know. I aim for a mix of these, but in the end you have to be you. You have to share from a place of passion or compassion. Let what's in you come out. I try to make my post's geniune and real and hope that it's something people find worth reading.

sallynapthali.com.au

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I always get you, Terri. And now I know what you really think of me :D I try to write for my readers but I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I should be trying to relate to readers or writers or both and that makes topics harder to come by. I think, for me, it's a never ending learning process.

BECKY said...

Hey, Terri! I "get you", too! I know what you mean about some blogs,though. Usually if I liked them the first time, I continue to like them. How fun giving a presentation about writing for CS books! Wish I didn't live so far away!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Wonderful advice, Terri. I hope I am writing relevant and thought provoking posts and not boring or confusing my readers.

Wish I could attend your workshop.

T. Anne said...

I can only pray I'm hitting the nail on the head. I'm trying harder than ever these days.

Faith Imagined said...

Great advice! I stay pretty focused on my blog although I can't wait to start branching out a little with posts on the publishing process. Hopefully soon! (:

Lydia Kang said...

I'm trying to write posts that are relevant to my readers. But it's funny, some days I'll write what I think is a fabulous post people will like, and I don't get as many visitors as on a day when I think my topic is ho hum. I can't figure people out, I guess!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

LOL, I'm pretty sure everyone liked my zoo post! I haven't done a how to build a house post...yet. (wink) I figure there are so many writers that know so much more than I know that my more random posts with a few writing posts work for me. Hopefully they make people smile...

Hae a great time at your workshop, Terri. I know you'll do a great job!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Your blog, like a good cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, keeps me turning the pages for more.

I gear my blog toward connecting writers and readers. Readers like the book reviews and author interviews, and get to see what makes us writer types tick. I try to encourage writers and point them to valuable resources.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jackee said...

I'm not sure if I've figured this out on my blog yet, but I do make sure that every post comes from my heart.

Your workshop is going to rock! I hope you and the class enjoy the time there. :o) Good luck, Terri!

Sally said...

I write posts about things I'm thinking about. I have traffic but not enough to gauge if I'm hitting a target audience. I started the blog on my husband's recommendation so in the end, I'm hitting my target.

Lynn said...

I wish I could attend your workshop! Will you post a video of it on utube maybe? I'm still learning what my blog should be about! My posts do tend to be more about reflecting on who you are and what you want to achieve, rather than the world of writing. Through blogging I learn not only about my readers but about myself.

Julie Musil said...

Terri, what a great subject for your workshop. I'll bet the people will love it.

I hope I'm writing relevant posts for my readers. Most of us are in the same boat, so we relate to each other.

Good luck with your workshop!

BeckyJoie said...

I get you. :)

Ann Best said...

YES. We do need to be aware of our audience: readers/followers!!

I haven't read a post of yours yet that I don't understand!!!

Thanks for coming over to my blog and wishing me well on my final revisions. Yay!

Have a wonderful Sabbath!!!!
Ann Best, Long Journey Home

L'Aussie said...

A thoughtful post. As writers we are creative so we do change focus. This is reflected in losing comments from some followers but gaining more from new followers. Writing a blog needs to be an honest reflection of your journey at the moment. We'll never please all our followers so we shouldn't fret over every post.

I agree that market research is a must to know where to aim a short story. All the best for your teaching on this topic!

Seth said...

What a cool blog! I dabble in writing a bit myself and I know that sometimes I make things way too hard on myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

Elizabeth McKenzie said...

Good point. I try and narrow my following to writers and readers, but some spammers get into the mix. I throw most of them out, but some get through the cracks. I don't expect they'll be back to read my posts. I wish I had time to read more blogs and comment, but after work and writing and playing, the energy's not there.

Thanks for the post and for commenting on my blog.

Susan Fields said...

Great question! I do try to, but I'm sure I miss the mark sometimes, too.

Robin said...

I need am the one who drifted away not my readers! Thank you for your question and thoughts.

Patti Lacy said...

Terri, GREAT QUESTION!
I'm not sure if I am or not! As much as I love blogging, it's difficult to juggle all the balls in my hands.

The stories have to come first. Perhaps the blogs suffer.

But you are doing a GREAT JOB!!!!!
Of course you would, with that great writing!!!

Margo Berendsen said...

I sure struggle with this one. I guess I write my blog posts for a reader I envision similar to me - looking for encouragement and tips from other writers out there. Sometimes I think people relate, sometimes I think they are just being polite!

Just Be Real said...

Good point. I try and be clear and specific in my writings. Thank you for sharing Terri

Shirley said...

I don't know whether they are or aren't. All I know is that some want to read this and some want to read that and if I write about this, the 'that' people stop visiting and if I write about 'that', the 'this' people stop visiting. So, I just write what I feel like writing and let the chips fall where they may.

Ginger said...

That's something I really need to think about Terri. Thank you for sharing it.=) You remind me of professional author Delatorro who got as book in >> http://bit.ly/eluyUl. I'm hoping for the best for your workshop.=)