It does not matter what you are writing, if you lost your audience, then they might not finish reading or return for more. May it be a journal article, a boring report or an interesting story that you are looking to share, without readers or audience, it will all be for naught. Borrowing a lesson from Holly Lisle’s course, she has summed it up in two words: who cares?
I have to suffer through pages and pages of journal articles about cancer therapy because I needed to pass my exams, I stayed up late reading books from new authors because I cared (for a while) about their heroes and heroines; if I do not concern myself with characters and conclusions, then what is the point of me reading?
As a writer, I understand the need to share every detail about you character’s likes and dislikes as well as activities undertaken. But, to do that will take up a lot of words and pages that could potentially cost a lot more than just money. There are not many readers who would read Dickens willingly today; I can say that because I only got through three pages of Great Expectations and my brain had shut down. Granted, I might not be suited for classics, but I read 1984 just fine.
On the other end of the scale, I sometimes wonder if the writer would ever reveal some details about their character, but usually I am left wondering. Take Isabella Swan from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. I wonder about her dreams and her personality while people continued to shower her with love and attention. In the end, I had to ask: what is so special about her that makes guys love her, apart from being stubborn and dreamy?
A good writer knows what the audience wants; a better writer knows how to make the reader want. A good example from me would be The Medea Complex by Rachel Roberts, I was compelled to pity both Anne and Edgar, the main characters of her story. From the beginning, Anne was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in 1885, and since I knew what that means, my heart went out to her. To make matters complicated, her husband Edgar is in emotional turmoil as his insane wife had killed his newborn son. Did I just make you care?
After capturing your reader’s attention, keeping it would be your new challenge. You can make people care about a situation or a problem, engaging your audience would allow them to give their full attention to your work. It may not be funny or interesting, not every part of the book can be, but people will continue to read because they care about an aspect in your book.
So, when you reread your draft, you should pretend to be your audience, and wonder if certain parts could be omitted without altering the whole picture. After scratching off unessential details, you could always ask yourself what you would like to know more about: the character, the setting, the plot etc. Using a computer, you can have as many drafts as you want, who cares?