Writing can be a lonely business. One way authors can alleviate that issue is to build a relationship with a person that they consider their ‘Ideal Reader.’ An Ideal Reader is a trusted partner, advisor and the first person to read the writer‘s first draft of a book.
The Ideal Reader is symbolic of the writer’s audience overall. This person represents a composite or a common denominator of the author’s demographic, so in this case one size will definitely not fit all. Once common ground and a willing exchange has been determined, what qualities should the Ideal Reader possess? They should be well read in the genre of the book, whatever it is. They need to be a person that the writer trusts implicitly. They should also be able to communicate in a way that the writer will appreciate. Assertive communication occurs when there is open and honest feedback presented in a respectful manner. The Ideal Reader will be able to convey their suggestions in a way that will make the writer think twice. The suggestions are taken under advisement and there is no weirdness if some or all of the suggestions are not implemented.
The Ideal Reader should be able to detect structural flaws, such as a deceased character showing up in a later chapter. It is a first draft, after all, and first drafts are usually a bit of a mess. You probably know a few people you don’t mind coming over when the house is in disarray. Those are the people with whom you feel most comfortable, who you trust, who you are willing to let see you at your worst – not just your best. That’s the kind of confidence to have in your Ideal Reader.
You may even have different Ideal Readers for different areas of your writing. Think of them as subject matter experts who can check your content for flaws. Have a friend in the medical field review your story which takes place in a hospital. If you don’t know much about something on which you are writing, give it to a person who does work in that field to see whether or not they find it credible.
Another aspect of the Ideal Reader is that they need to be into your writing. Writers, don’t hold yourself hostage by trying to make an Ideal Reader out of someone with a “you’re welcome” attitude who looks annoyed whenever handed a manuscript. If you have to follow-up with them multiple times over several months, then keep looking. The partner you want will be naturally enthusiastic to see what you have created. They are engaged and interested, and they can’t wait around for several weeks or months or years to find out about your latest opus. They are supportive but provide constructive criticism. They are collaborators actively involved in the process. Once you have established your Ideal Reader, do what you can to maintain the relationship. They are rarer than diamonds and even more valuable.
What is your approach to collaborative writing?
Do you have an Ideal Reader?
8 Replies to “Behind Every Great Writer is an Ideal Reader”
Great ideas, Kimberly! As a nonfiction writer, I also try to find opportunities to teach the concepts that I’m writing about to that ideal reader, so I can find better ways to approachthe subject matter and obtain honest feedback, especially from their body language. If they look puzzled, offended or bored, I know it needs some major re-thinking and revisions. Thanks again for sharing your insights!
Hello Karen! I have a couple of Ideal Readers for different areas of writing. They are responsive and wonderful partners. Thank you so much for your comments.
On so many levels this makes sense. But most of all, I think having a real face to write to would even help in the crafting of the book. Knowing you have to please that Ideal Reader as you write, should make the content stronger. Nice post, Kimberly. Thank you!
Great point, Anita. Giving a face to our audience does make a difference. You start to wonder about what they would find funny, touching and so on. Thank you!
Sometimes when friends find out that I’m writing a book, they want to read it. Initially, I let a several people read my manuscript. The comments and feedback were helpful. Yet, some people never got back to me. Ever. And that’s okay. Therefore, now I’m quite selective and I don’t share my manuscript with every interested person. I have a few trusted individuals who continue to be helpful. However, to find my trusted circle, took months! Now when someone in my life asks to read my book, I now I respond, “When the book is published, I’ll make sure that you get copy.”
That’s a very good way to handle a sensitive topic. I’m going to keep your tip in mind for the future. Thanks Heather!
Comments are closed.