The one character authors never talk about 1 Comment


Today I am going to break the silence and talk about the one character authors never ever discuss and yet we all need to use.

This character never ever appears (directly) in any novel. They do not get a name. No one knows them even though book sales depend on this one character.

I’m talking, of course, about the ideal reader.

Why define an ideal reader?

Your ideal reader is the one character every author needs to define. But why?

If you try to write a book for everyone, the chances are no one will be interested. The same is true of blog posts. Try to blog for the mass public and, at best, your post will be perfectly average. No one cares about average.

Instead, try to focus on “the one character”. By doing that, you can tailor your content to satisfy their interests. Instead of interrupting what readers are interested in, you can be what they’re interested in.

Marvel did that with a series of amazing superhero films. People, myself included, pay good money to go and watch those movies. Yet think about it, those movies (as good as they are) are adverts for Marvel’s merchandising. Pretty clever, right.

Back in my childhood, while some toy makers were paying a fortune to interrupt cartoons with adverts for the latest must-have toys, others were busy making the cartoons. The toys of my childhood were Transformers, He-Man, and Star-Wars. All of them had one thing in common – I never wanted them because of adverts; I wanted them because of the cartoons and movies that the other adverts were trying to interrupt.

How to define the ideal reader

As writers, we are well placed to profile and define our ideal reader. After all, we craft characters for a living. However it is that you sketch out your characters, sketch out the one character that buys the book.

Ask yourself questions about their background, their interests, and their needs.

  • What do they want?
  • Why did they buy the book?
  • What do they care about?
  • Which way do their politics lean?
  • How did they get interested in your book?
  • When are they online?
  • Where are their priorities?
  • What excites them?

Tailor the “plot” of your blog to the one character

Now you know who the one character is, you can focus your blog on posts that appeal to them. this might seem like pie-in-the-sky thinking but once you know your reader, everything changes.

You go from looking for people to look for people that care about the environment (for example). Rather than trying to reach all of Facebook (which is impossible) you can locate specific groups where your reader will be.

You can go from looking for people in general to looking for young male readers with a liberal outlook and background in the arts. Or maybe from trying to reach the world at large and switch to people in the UK old enough to remember post-war Britain.

By knowing your one character, you can craft writing that stands above the rest. You can craft blog posts that “go viral” among a very specific audience. You can be exactly what some people are interested in.

Now all you need to do is given your character a name.


About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative Writers as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.


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