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Hello, writers. I was just talking with the brilliant and talented GussieFN about this. Who do you write for? Or, if you prefer it: For whom do you write?

There isn't a right answer to this question. But it's one that's worth asking yourself.

I have known, all my life, people who would answer that they write for themselves. This isn't a wrong answer. J.R.R. Tolkien once said that he wrote The Hobbit for himself. When it was pointed out to him that he'd previously told interviewers he wrote it for his children, he replied that that was just what he'd told “the sob sisters”.

(By “sob sisters” I believe he meant “courageous female journalists, entering a male-dominated field at a time when women weren't expected to enter any field at all.” Raise your hand if you are astonished to find the T-man being a bit of a misogynist. What, no hands?)

If you're writing for publication, then you're probably imagining an audience of some kind. Imagine them too much, and you can give yourself a wicked case of writer's block, as they stare over your shoulder, critiquing ever word you type.

Kurt Vonnegut said

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
I have never been exactly sure what this meant... whether the one person was himself, or his wife, or some particular reader. Nor am I exactly sure how one would write if one were giving one's story pneumonia.

Personally I find that if you think too much about one reader in particular, then you'll find yourself leaving out things that person doesn't like (even if the story needs them) or putting in things that person will find amusing (even if they drag the story down).

Anyway, having given the matter some thought, I guess my answer is that I write for the story.

But that's not necessarily the right answer.

What's yours?

Tonight's challenge:

Choose one of the following scenarios.

- Incorruptible detective Scotty Blaine delivers a warning to the local mob boss.

- International superspy James Buns has been captured by an eccentric megalomaniac, who plans to use an elaborate invention to kill the hero and his unfortunately-named girlfriend.

- Belinda sees Lord Postlethwaite-Praxleigh (pronounced Puppy) leaving the ballroom on the arm of her rival, Adelaide, who isn’t even capable of appreciating all he went through in the Peninsular Wars

- The battle isn’t going so well for intrepid mercenary soldier Wallace Higginbotham.

- A callow youth and his/her stout companion, having just received word that someone dropped the sacred Jewel of Togwogmagog in the Eternal Swamp, have gone back to look for it.

(h/t Tara for the first two scenarios)

Write it twice.

1. Write it to be read by a rather prudish monk.
2. Write it to be read by a kid in a juvenile detention center.

Please limit yourself to 100 words each time.


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