Along with my regular job and my efforts at writing, I teach a business class at the local college. It’s a lot of work, but very rewarding. There’s always a mixture of students. Some are fresh from high school and know everything while others have already been in the workforce, maybe even raising families while working and attending school.
In addition to several homework assignments, there is a big project where the students must create a business plan. Since writing is one of my passions, I always put extra emphasis on this. After all, being able to write well can serve them for years to come.
Last week as part of the lecture I explained the importance of knowing your audience. If your business or project is creating apps for smart phones, you may use terminology that the tech savvy audience will understand. But it you’re pitching your idea to a banker or investor who doesn’t have that background, your efforts will fall flat.
The same holds true in creative writing. I was reminded of an old timer who participated in a writer’s group I was a part of. He wanted to write a picture book for young kids, maybe 3 to 6 years old. While his overall idea was good, his writing wasn’t. He filled pages with description, even including the scientific names for butterflies, insects and cloud formations. The rest of us could picture youngsters getting bored and wandering away. That’s not how you engage your readers. You have to know your audience. Learn what interests them and draw them in. Then once they’re in, the trick is to keep them.
Here’s an example from “Vanishing Act” the second book in the Jamie Richmond series.
Malone was going to kill me.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. He was going to kill me.
I knew it in my heart, in my soul—right down to the marrow of my bones. From the top of my wavy red locks to the bright, red polish on my toenails, I knew without a doubt that it was a sure thing.
Malone was going to kill me.
That was provided I got out of this alive, of course.
He’d warned me time and again to mind my own business. Why couldn’t I listen to reason? How could it be that less than four months after I narrowly escaped certain death at the hands of a psychotic bikini-bar waitress, I found myself in another situation where chances of my survival were so slim? Only this time, it was not just my life on the line. I had somebody else counting on me.
Now it was up to me. I needed to figure out a way of getting us out of here, fast, because right now, time was rapidly running out on me. Make that us. There was no way I was leaving alone, but there sure as hell was no way I wanted to stick around. Right now, all I really wanted was to be back in my cozy little home, curled up on the plush sofa I affectionately call “The Jewish Aunt,” waiting for Malone to come home from work. But I knew that was not going to happen.
We were trapped. And waiting on the other side of that wall was someone who would rather see us sliced open on a coroner’s slab than walking out the door. And to help them make that wish come true, they were setting the wall on fire.
Malone may have to wait in line to kill me.