My Audience: A lot of people remind authors never to forget their audience. They are the people who will, hopefully, help you pay a few bills down the road. This is excellent advice – see #9 in my post, 10 Things…( http://cherylangst.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/10-things/) for a tongue-in-cheek example of why this is key.
When I’m writing I like to take a slightly different tack with this advice. I don’t think about my audience as an abstract, amorphous group of anonymous book buyers; rather, I like to imagine myself in their shoes. Specifically, I ask myself how they would want to feel at each point in my scenes. I ask myself, “Knowing that Toni is angry, how would I want to react to this scene as a reader?” Do I want to feel her anger? Laugh at her situation? Cringe as I anticipate the explosion? Cackle gleefully at her target’s impending doom?
My Five Senses: I have to constantly remind myself I am not limited by what I see in my mind’s eye as I write. This doesn’t mean I have my characters fondling and licking everything they see, but that I make a conscious effort to experience my fictional world with more than my eyes.
Last night I began drafting a beach scene. Most people know what a typical beach looks like, and unless it has some unique features relevant to the story, describing the view would lead me perilously close to boring my readers. Instead of visual descriptors, I started the scene with olfactory ones (because, yes, most people have an idea of how a beach sounds too).
My Goal: I don’t focus on my goal as a writer, but rather my goal for each scene. I may not know what I going to happen 100 pages beyond where I’m writing, but I ALWAYS know what my character’s goal for the scene is, and what his/her decision will be that will lead to his/her goal for the next scene.
For example, Toni’s goal in the first scene of Job Hunted is to catch her target, Miriam, committing a crime. However, being the evil author that I am, I cannot let Toni succeed so easily, so Miriam is murdered. This puts Toni in a bit of a dilemma: follow and identify the killer, or fulfill her contractual obligations and report in to her boss. I force Toni to make a decision before the end of the scene, giving her a new goal (follow and ID the killer) for the next scene.
What things do you focus most on when you write?