Mistake 4: Forgetting the Reader

Author:
Publish date:

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer from The Writer's Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: The ultimate consumer of any form of writing is the reader. Yet too often writers focus on people other than the reader. The biggest mistake a writer can make is focusing on herself. There’s no point in writing something down for someone else to read if the only person you care about is yourself. Too often, writers end up telling their own story, thinly disguised as fiction. This is called the fictional memoir. Readers have their own lives—lives that are of much more interest to them than someone else’s, unless that other person’s story is told in an exceptional manner or is of an extraordinary nature. Sad to say, most people’s lives are not as interesting as they think they are.

The solution:
A writer’s job is to get something that is inside her own head into the reader’s head through the sole medium of the printed word. Thus the writer must focus on the words and the affect those words are going to have on the reader’s thoughts and emotions, particularly the latter.

Image placeholder title

If you are a technical writer, consider how your information is being processed by the reader’s brain. If you are writing an instruction manual, have several people read what you’ve written as they try to follow your instructions, and see if they can accomplish the task.

When writing fiction, pretend you are the reader and that you know nothing about the story other than what you’ve read from the first word of the first sentence. Are you hooked? Is there escalating conflict? Suspense? Are you engaged with the characters of the story? Do you want to know what happens next? Of course, you the author, care about what you’re writing. The key is making the reader care.

The Story That Drove Me to Write

The Story That Drove Me to Write

Award-winning author Stephanie Kane shares the book that launched her career and provides insights for how you can pursue your story.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Epiphany Moment

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Epiphany Moment

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character experience an epiphany.

Eat Your Words: Your 8-Point Checklist for Writing Original Recipes

Eat Your Words: Your 8-Point Checklist for Writing Original Recipes

Food writer, cook, and committed vegan Peggy Brusseau explains how you can craft a cookbook that engages your reader and stands out from the crowd.

Flash Fiction Challenge

28 Writing Prompts for the 2021 Flash Fiction Challenge Challenge

Find all 28 poetry prompts for the 2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge Challenge in this post.

How to Not Write in the Pandemic, Early Days

How to Not Write in the Pandemic, Early Days

Novelist Rebecca Hardiman gives us an insight into the obstacles that cropped up for writers at the start of the 2020 global pandemic.

7 Tips for Writing Police Procedurals That Readers Love

7 Tips for Writing Police Procedurals That Readers Love

Mystery and crime novelist Russ Thomas explains how best to create a police procedural that will hook your reader and keep them coming back for more.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 560

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an alien poem.

3 Tips for Writing with a Co-Author

3 Tips for Writing with a Co-Author

Shakil Ahmad provides the top 3 things he learned while co-authoring the book Wild Sun with his brother Ehsan.

Viet Thanh Nguyen | The Committed | Writer's Digest Quote

WD Interview: Viet Thanh Nguyen on The Committed

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses the challenges of writing his second novel, The Committed, and why trusting readers can make for a more compelling narrative in this WD interview.