Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Liz Harris - One Thing I've Learnt


'One thing I've learnt is that the world isn't full of writers, either aspiring or published, but that there are readers, too, and they may have no interest in the mechanics of writing.
This may sound obvious, but (in my defence) it isn't.  After years of going to workshops and writing groups, meeting with writer friends and discussing our work and the difficulty of getting published, I'd rather forgotten that there are people out there who have no interest in what happens behind the scenes - they just want to be transported into the world of the fiction and allowed to stay there.
How did I reach this amazing degree of awareness???  Well, I went to a talk where the speaker was addressing an audience made up primarily of readers, and I realised that the speaker's focus was very different from that in a talk given to a writer-audience.
So thank you, Rosie Thomas, for giving a really brilliant talk at the Oxford Literary Festival that (I hope) will help me to keep the nature of my audience in the forefront of my mind when I come to talk to readers about my novel The Road Back.'

THE ROAD BACK to be published by Choc Lit, September 2012
follow me on twitter @lizharrisauthor

14 comments:

Laura E. James said...

Good call, Liz, and a timely reminder. Thank you.
Laura x

Emma Lee-Potter said...

This is such a good point to make, Liz. It is so easy to get so caught up in your writing that you completely forget who you are writing for - the reader!

Stephanie Zia said...

Good thoughts! LOVE your cover, have serious cover envy :)

liz fenwick said...

Liz - such an important point and one I need to take on board! And like Stephanie - definite cover envy!

lx

Liz Harris said...

Many thanks for your comments, Laura, Emma, Stephanie and Liz.

I was lucky that I went to two talks, on consecutive days, that together made me aware of the very different focus needed in a talk given to readers, rather than writers.

In the first talk, the author made a point that any group of writers would have instantly challenged. No one commented. I sat up and took note.

The following day, Rosie Thomas's talk, aimed at readers, was perfection itself.

My experience at the first talk had heightened my awareness of audience when I went to the second day, and it made me pick up pointers that otherwise I might have missed.

Talli Roland said...

Brilliant post, Liz! It's something I remind myself of, too - that we need to reach beyond our writer circles to those who are the end consumer of our product: readers!

Rebecca Leith said...

Good point. I guess with all the talks etc we go to, with the focus being on writing, it's all too easy to find yourself in a bubble.

Alison Morton said...

When we're writing, we interact a lot with fellow-writers and publishing folk - this is our natural "office environment".

So as friendships form and we share experiences from their lives, we sometimes overlook the person on the end of our process who is stumping up the dosh to read our books.

I keep a note on the pinboard by my PC with a short description of my target reader - this keeps me focused on who I'm working for. One day, I may even add a photo...

liz fenwick said...

Alison - that is such a good idea!

lx

Liz Harris said...

Talli - if you find the secret of how to target readers, I'll be first in the queue to learn it!!

Bex- I was shocked by how easily I'd slipped into assuming that everyone who went to a talk was listening for the same thing. Not so.

Alison - I like your idea of a photograph as a reminder. Am now leafing through the pics I have of one Richard Armitage.

Liz Harris said...

Talli - if you find the secret of how to target readers, I'll be first in the queue to learn it!!

Bex- I was shocked by how easily I'd slipped into assuming that everyone who went to a talk was listening for the same thing. Not so.

Alison - I like your idea of a photograph as a reminder. Am now leafing through the pics I have of one Richard Armitage.

Liz Harris said...

Talli - if you find the secret of reaching readers, I'll be first in the queue to learn it!

Bex - I was shocked by how easily I'd slipped into thinking that everyone who went to a talk was listening for the same thing.

Alison - I like your idea of a picture as a reminder of your reader. Am about to start leafing through pics of one Richard Armitage.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Good point Liz and one I need to remember.

Love the cover of The Road Back!

Gilli Allan said...

As you say, Liz, we go to so many talks and work shops ourselves, that discussing an aspect of craft is the only thing that springs to mind when invited to speak or to write a blog post. What DO readers want to know... that is the question. Gx