Monday, December 21, 2009

"First Things First: Part I" by Patti Lacy

For the next three weeks, guest author Patti Lacy will share some advice for writers here on Manuscript Mondays. Please welcome my friend as she shares some first things first.

First Things First: Part I
Who’s Your Audience? What’s Your Message?
by Patti Lacy

My mama always told me to put first things first. I avoided boutique racks of prom dresses until I had a date. Muted Nike “Just Do It” commercials until Doc okayed an exercise program. A “first” in penning the next great American novel is to consider your target audience, then determine what they’d like to hear.

As an author writing for the Audience of One, the idea of skewing stories for a target audience coats my mouth with a slimy taste. There’s several ways I’ve determined to pour my passion onto paper yet still find readers besides my mother, husband, and kids.

Do research on who’s reading what. According to an AP poll conducted among avid readers, "the typical woman reads nine books in a year compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except history and biography." "We see it every time in our store," says Carla Cohen, owner of Politics & Prose bookstore in D.C. "Women head straight for the fiction section and men head for nonfiction."

Okay, I’m a woman whose passion is to pen secrets women keep and why they keep them, so this isn’t too hard. But a male author or a woman whose story involves a hero can interest a target audience of women by heaping personality into female characters, honing in on women’s issues, and including current events pertinent to the plot.

Include social, economic, and cultural issues that involve your target group. So what interests women these days? Stretching the household budget like those old panty hose in your bottom drawer. Characters—and plots—filled with hope for troubling times. You can read the headlines, the bylines, or just ask employees where the customers are bee-lining when they run through the bookstore doors.

Genre jump—it broadens your mind AND your target group. Have you checked out bookstore end-caps lately? They’re sagging with romance and suspense novels. Plant a sizzling, mysterious love interest in your story. Not only will those elements enrich your plot, you will reach more readers. Touch more hearts.

Consider these elements as you put first things first. But don’t forget the One who first loved you and placed His pen in your hand. Put God first in your writing career. After all, He was your first reader . . . and He will be your last reader as well.

Stay tuned for Part II, telling your readers what they want to hear.

Patti Lacy thanks her parents for planting the love of stories in her heart and for laying a foundation for a career in teaching. At age 50, she entered the world of writing and has published two novels, An Irishwoman’s Tale and What the Bayou Saw. Patti and her husband live in Normal, Illinois and love to take long walks with their dog named Laura.


  1. Ooh--this is great, Patti! Thank you! You really have me thinking. And this late at night, that's practically a miracle! :0)

  2. Yes. The enjoyment of being enjoyed. Who can ever tire of that.

    btw, if you started at fifty, then I have eight years to warm up .... {procrastinating grin}

  3. Hey, Kristen, my faithful bloggite! So we now know your weakness--late night!! Wait! It says 8:28!!! You're a morning girl, like me!!

    Blessings, and Merry Christmas!!

    Sande, thanks ever so much for sharing your age!!! We are like fine wine, getting better and better and better. Thank you, Holy Spirit!!!!!

    Thanks, Annette and Dawn, for the opportunity!

  4. Thanks again for visiting us Patti and sharing your insights.

    "See" you next Manuscript Monday. :)



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