Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Confession: When I was in ninth grade, I walked out of the movie theater during Ace Ventura because Jim Carrey was talking with his butt. So totally not my thing.
There isn't a single person on the planet who would enjoy watching slap stick comedy with me. I am not a fan. In fact, I hate it. I grumble and complain about the implausibility of it all and the sheer stupidity of the plot. At the theater, people throw popcorn at me because I'm not great at quiet and I'm perfectly okay admitting that slap stick is just not my genre.
Now, my husband? He's a huge fan. He could watch and believe in the magical powers of Jim Carrey for days on end. Our marriage has survived, in part, because he doesn't insist I accompany him to such movies and I don't demand he watch Jane Austen with me. We're all about compromise over here.
And that brings me to today's chat. When writing fiction, we must keep our intended audience in mind when we sit down to write. What would the historical fiction reader think, for example, if Elizabeth Bennett suddenly bent over and started talking to Mr. Darcy with her behind? For the most part, historical fiction audiences aren't looking for that kind of humor. They're looking for something a little more appropriate to the time period.
Science fiction and fantasy readers will often give the author tons of room to play with, whereas readers of military science novels (like the Tom Clancy stuff) prefer things to be accurate and factually sound. It's why speculative fiction authors are usually praised for things like world building and creativity while the Tom Clancy guys are praised for their research and precision. The preferences of the intended audience directly relate to how an author and his books are viewed. It benefits the writer to remember that.
Like all writing rules, there are the exceptions. The stories that somehow make smashups work. I think of the book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or the film, Cowboys and Aliens. You'll have to be the judge of how well these worked, but it's important to keep in mind that the writers made very intentional decisions when drafting these stories. They didn't stumble into another genre accidentally. Up front, audiences knew what they were getting.
There's nothing quite like opening a book you think will be a sweet romance and finding out the author expects you to believe worms have taken over the earth. So, while I'll never, ever tell you that there's one way to write a book, I do think you should always, always keep your intended audience in mind when you sit down to write it.
Tell me, have you ever picked up a book you thought was one thing but turned out to be something else entirely? Was it a good surprise or a bad surprise? And do you make it a practice to think about your intended audience when you settle into your writing cave?