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To write well, write for one person

To get the writing juices flowing, you need to really know who you are writing for. But not just in an intellectual way. You need to picture them, know them.

Don’t try to write for the general public, or anyone who might be out there. Write for one person. Just one.

Write as if it’s a letter to that one person. It’ll make what you write much more friendly and approachable. And immediate.

Now, you might think this applies more to fiction and creative writing, but not to hard-headed journalism and copywriting. But that’s not the case. it’s equally true for these disciplines as well.

When I worked on a local paper (many years ago now), I used to call in at my favourite pub on the way home most days. The place was filled with people from all sorts of backgrounds. People who read the paper.

In time, I learnt to write for them, not for my editor or some distant audience I had never met. It really worked too, and soon I had a reputation as someone who knew the local people and what was going on. That’s because the folk down the pub talked to me more and more as my writing connected with them. It snowballed.

And writing for one person also applies to commercial copywriting. Here’s what Joe Vitale has to say on the subject:

Don’t write to the masses… Write to an individual, any individual, and you will create a personal rapport with your readers.

Joe is the author of Hypnotic Writing: How to Seduce and Persuade Customers with Only Your Words (affiliate), which is a very thought provoking read. Most of what he covers in the book is aimed at direct response copywriters, which is about as far from creative fiction writing as you can get. But the basics apply to both.

Hynotic writing is a subject I’ll be looking at quite often on this site, so if it interests you, please check back.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • The Guy Who Knows A Pigeon Called Frank November 21, 2007, 11:47 am

    Some good ideas here. But it also really depends on what kind of stuff you write and who YOU want your audience to be.

  • Doug Rosbury November 22, 2007, 9:25 pm

    Thank you for your insight. I will try to employ your idea
    In my own writing. Thanks very much, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Fond regards to you.—Doug Rosbury