In relation to audience, a thought crossed my mind, to which some consideration may be given in this context. It is the question "How much knowledge can I expect my audience to have?"
An example crossing my mind is Piers Anthony's series of "The Incarnations Of Immortality" - good and easy reading, if (!) you have a relatively clear understanding and knowledge of mythology (in this particular instance the graeco/roman -> christian thread). Or James P. Hogan's "Thrice Upon A Time" - lost me to some extent on the path of teoretical physics.
We have discussed before the need of researching, especially if the story is in a real or otherwise "given" (e.g. historical) context. But obviously one must find a balance between describing everything required to understand the context respectively the story, and not boring the reader with "common knowledge". But then again - what can you safely assume an average reader to know, and how do you determine that? Or don't you?
Excellent question, Glance and one that's crossed my mind numerous times. I go with the assumption that my audience is much wiser than I am. That forces me to make sure my research is on target and that I know my subject matter as best I can. It also forces me to read as many books as I can get my hand on in a specific genre to see how other authors approach a specific theme, plot or circumstance. If I'm building a new fantasy world (which I am at the moment), I try to find as many authors whose work is similar to my theme, writing style or storyline. The same goes for historical novels, science fiction and even mainstream. At the moment, I'm mired down in Tolkien's books on his creation of Middle Earth. Lots of fun and excellent source. I've also invested in some software to help me design maps - the cartographer in me has come to life. *g*
I have a lot of "how to" books in my library which includes everything from gardening (which I'm not really good at) to police procedural (which I've never done). I even have books on 'how to poison someone' (lol), 'how to lie like a pro' and many books on slang, language, euphimisms, etc. I keep these on hand for developing characters, their hobbies, careers, lifestyles, friends, etc. I've also got many books on human behavior, poetry, how to write poetry, medieval times, mythology, fairytales, religions and spirituality (my library is huge and takes up most of the space in my tiny apartment). So, if my characters have any of the above interests, I'm able to immerse myself into their realm and learn as much as I can about any given subject. With the advent of the Internet, I have more resources at my finger tips.
Writing a story for public consumption is not an easy task. Ask any of the folks here who write at fanfic sites. Your audience will call you on any tiny mistake or deviation from the expected character or plotline. Even in the world of fantasy and scifi (a/k/a as "speculative fiction"). The unbelieveable has to be believed. Otherwise, the whole point is lost.
It sounds to me like you're a tiny bit overwhelmed, Glance. And if that's the case, join the crowd. Developing your own audience is quite different (and much harder) than writing for an existing audience. I have a friend who writes mysteries. Her 3rd in a series was recently published. She's now working on the 6th (I believe). It took her 9 years to get to the point where she is now. First-book publications are not the norm (even though they seem to be). It takes time to learn what type of writing you're best at, to develop your own voice and even more to find an audience. That's why I suggest joining an online writer's group. I also think having what I call a "crit buddy" is an excellent idea. Find someone whose writing style is similar to your own and someone who's a fan of your genre. And try not to have friends or family be that critic. Find someone who is involved in the world of writing. Have them go over your stories and reciprocate, as well.
I'm glad you asked this question. In fact, you've asked some very pertinent questions and I think we've all benefitted from the pooled knowledge in this forum. Thanks!
Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />