Purpose and Audience

It’s day four of NaNoWriMo and all of the participants are likely stuck into getting their books finished. The motivation is, for most of them, likely still running strong to get it finished. But I thought we’d talk today about another vital part of the writing process that takes place before you even begin writing. And that is deciding on the purpose of your writing and the audience you intend it for.

Let’s start with the purpose: Why are you going to write this piece? What is it going to be for? Is it an essay for school or a creative poem? Whatever the intention behind a piece of writing, there are certain conventions that will be followed.

Audience, on the other hand, is pretty self-explanatory: who is going to read this piece of writing? Your school teacher, a parent, random people on the internet? Your intended audience will also play a big role in how you word your piece and the conventions that you follow.

So, let’s take an example: You’re writing an essay for a school assignment and your teacher is going to read it. Think about how you would write an essay with your teachers in mind. Do you write in text language? No, the words and writing conventions you use are quite formal. Personal information is definitely not presented, and conjunctions are a no-no for most teachers as well. In fact, teachers are looking for a well-structured, paragraphed essay that presented clear and concise ideas in relatively formal language.

This blog is an informal place where we can chat about writing and craft (there will be a craft post soon) and share information and questions and hopefully encourage each other in our various projects. So, I don’t mind starting sentences with prepositions and using contractions and other informal language.

I have to admit, this is something I never consciously thought about before I studied creative writing at university. When my lecturer started telling us about it, I was surprised and confused. I thought it was the same writing style for every audience. I guess I was wrong. Instruction manuals and cookbooks are written in command form: do this first and then do that. Do you write a novel in command form? Not usually. Novels and other creative works are usually written in a first or third person point of view depending on the intentions of the author.

Is the purpose and audience of your writing something you think about before you begin? Or is it something you fix in the editing at the end? Do you even think about it at all? Share with me in the comments.


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