Whether you’re writing your own memories or writing your ancestors’ stories, thinking about your audience matters. Who you are writing for will affect the way you write. For instance, thinking about your audience will impact your choice of formal or informal voice as well as how in-depth your stories will be.
Writingcommons.org explains it well in their article, What to Think About When Writing for a Particular Audience,
Consider how you talk differently to young children than you do to your professors. When communicating with a child, you may use simple language and a playful or enthusiastic tone. With your professors, however, you may try out academic language, using bigger words and more complex sentences. Your tone may be more professional than casual and more critical than entertaining.
If you’re writing for family, your writing will be more informal. If you want to draw people into the passion for your family’s history, that places a higher burden on the storytelling and a lighter burden on presenting the facts.
If you have dual purposes—for instance you hope to also submit your stories to a formal publication—you’ll want to keep that in mind as you write as well.
Who is your Audience?
Audience isn’t simply whoever reads your stories. Think about who you really want to read them. Who you hope to touch. With whom do you want to connect? Are they family members? Professional colleagues? A blog audience?
Is your family history a backdrop for your own story or are you presenting your research in a digestible form? Is it an academic endeavor? Are you hoping to persuade or enlighten your readers?
What matters to your audience?
What matters to your audience and what do they not care about? If you’re not meeting the needs of your audience, your own motives will matter very little.
A few years ago, I offered to make a presentation to a senior group at a church on how to use the church website. I was told, “Now why would we want you to teach us how to do something we have no interest in doing?” Humbling yes. But enlightening.
Is your target audience hungry for the stories of the past? What values do they hold? What is their connection to you? Tap into those needs and your stories will resonate with your readers.
Maybe it’s you that matters.
If your audience is family, you the storyteller, matter to them. Which, in a lot of ways, is a game changer. It’s no longer an issue of not being afraid to show your voice. Showing your personality and putting your heart on the page becomes an imperative.
Regardless of what audience you aspire to reach, thinking about them will make you a better storyteller.
Who is your audience? How has that changed the way you write your stories?