Thursday, December 05, 2019

Knowing your audience(s)

I’m caught between two projects right now: I'm trying to finish a novel that I've waded into 50,000-words deep, and I'm trying to write the pilot script for a would-be TV series based on said novel. My agent is awaiting the book, and a producer and an agent are waiting on the script. Of course, both are written on spec. (It wouldn’t be a mid-lister’s life, if they weren’t, after all.)

But something interesting happened on the way to the completion of both: I realized I'm writing for two different audiences.

The book, it seems to me, is written for an audience of mystery readers. People like me, I assume. People who want to find a new series, new characters, a new setting, and fall in love all over again (and hopefully buy this book and many more in the series). The book features a husband-and-wife team, and we move with them, learning about their lives together and apart, their struggles to raise a set of twin boys (one with a severe stutter) and a hyper-socially conscious daughter. We follow them on their journey to the solution of the crime. This is, first and foremost, a book I would want to read –– which is why I'm writing it.

The script, though it features the same husband and wife team, is dominated by the young people in the story. I knew it had to be as soon as the teenagers started talking. I went to a boarding school and now work at one. I know the pressures these kids face, know how they talk, and I know what they watch on Netflix. I also know that if the POV is to bounce around, as it must in the script, the kids can –– and will –– steal the show, so I’m going to let them.

All of this has produced an interesting lesson for me –– a lesson in audience awareness. The storyline for the script had to shift away from the novel’s plot. The script veered off the tracks of my outline as soon as the kids climbed aboard. Once they did, I knew we had left my favorite crime writers at the door. This was more Gossip Girl than The Long Goodbye.

All I do but try to keep all of it straight in my head, go along for the ride(s), and keep plugging away.

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