On Writing – Audience Demographics

On the page linked above where the installments for Drawful the Awful are archived, I explain that my current project derives from a quick joke with a friend, but that’s only where the idea for a clever dragon who applies to “kidnap” a Princess and the first three installments came from. Drawful turned into my next/current novel project in the Portland airport about three weeks ago.

I have a nephew who is probably my favorite person on this crazy planet. I’d go on and on about what a great kid he is, but I’ll let this story stand as its own testament. While waiting to board my flight back to LA, I received a call and answered to his voice telling me that his mother (my cousin) had bought a copy of Five Talents, which he’d started reading and had found a bad word:

Nephew: Uncle, am I allowed to read this? I found a bad word so my mom told me to call you and ask.
Me: Oh gosh, what was the bad word?
Nephew: I can’t say it but it began with ‘P.’

At this point I deduce it’s the word prick from where my Devil character, Gast refers to Tom Hanks as a “pristine mannered prick.” I breathe a heavy sigh of relief that it’s not some of the more colorful language still to come, and tell him that yeah, it’s a Devil using that language, so it is a bad word he shouldn’t use, then ask him to put his mother on the phone.

How does this tie to Drawful the Awful? Well, for one thing, I decided to take some time and make a novel that my nephew could read. I make a point of not checking sales numbers on my novels, and I don’t bother or prod my friends to read the things. I post about them only once when I publish them to my social media, and get to work on the next thing.

So, for all I knew three weeks ago, my only reader was an eight year old who couldn’t read the book I’d just published because of some of its “colorful” content. (I’ve learned, since, that a good number of people are reading and enjoying Five Talents, which I’m grateful for.) I made the decision, then and there, to write a novel my nephew could read without risk of the content being troublesome.

My nephew has a little sister who’s only just turned one, but I love her too. I’m her Godfather, and I decided if I was writing for her brother, I should write for her too. I wanted to give the little girl a story she could someday read and enjoy.

That’s where Drawful the Awful took off and exploded from. It’s why there’s been a steady stream of installments since that travel day at the end of last month. I’m writing a story with my audience clearly defined. I’m writing with a clear sense of purpose of what the ending and its message is and who it’s for.

I’m writing for a goddaughter I promised to help guide with whatever wisdom I have, and I’m writing a story that tells her: you are a Princess in a magical world that may not always make sense, but you can be a hero.

The installments will keep coming, and I’m (again inadvertently) matching summer NaNoWriMo’s pace to finish my rough draft this month because I’ve found a story and message I believe in. Once that’s done, it’s once more onto editing and rewrites.

As ever friends, we move forward.

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