Write to be Relevant

Twelve years ago, tragedy struck our nation. For the second time in United States history, we experienced a day that “lives in infamy,” a day we were attacked on our own soil. From across our country, people came together from every religious, ethnic, and cultural background. The walls fell for a few short weeks between liberals and conservatives, and we stood united in the face of great threat.

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So many years later, many have forgotten the pain they experienced that day, but they are reminded through the documentaries, television shows, and news broadcasts. Flags will fly and people will remember where they were on 9/11.

The news will make much of the event that marked this day twelve years ago. Why? Because people want to know. They will take to the internet and read articles and more new stories. They will remember the valiant plane crew and cheer their heroism. They’ll remember the firefighters and first responders who bravely ran into the towers as they crashed.

As writers, our bread and butter is anticipating what our audience wants. Where are the holes in the market? What’s doing well? What isn’t? Judge the attitudes and mindsets of people. Teen fantasy sells well because those that buy it want to escape reality. The same could be said for many Amish fiction readers.

Know who you are writing for. Let’s be honest. Most of us would like to say that our audience is everyone from 16 to 95, but that’s not realistic. While you hope that those in that age range will read your books, attempt to tailor it to a certain group within that and then market hard. I am a young adult who understands the heart, habits, and hang ups of my generation. I can tailor my novels to my age group. However, I also want to make it relatable to every age group, so I create characters that every group can somehow identify with.

At a mentoring clinic I attended, one of my mentors, a very successful author, looked at me and said, “Kariss, your books perfectly describe your generation’s desire to not simply DO church but to BE the church. You have a lot to learn from those who have gone before, but my generation could learn a lot from your generation by reading this book.” Why? Because at one point, this man was my age. His children are my age. His grandchildren will be my age. It’s still relevant and relatable to him.

We’ve been at war since I was 13. But as a result, I’ve come to value the brave men and women who serve our country and protect our freedom. It’s affected the way I write. It’s even bled into my characters as I researched and created courageous Navy SEALs. I live in an age of everyday heroes who are seldom recognized. 9/11 is relevant to me today, but it also shaped my teen years. It sent my friends into the service and combat. While the media markets this day for other reasons, I choose to remember. And in my writing, I make these heroes front and center, because no matter the day, they are relevant. Now that’s something to market.


3 Replies to “Write to be Relevant”

  1. Well said! I just prayed that I would “wake up” to our nation’s pain more and more and then read your article. It’s encouraging to know a young person is doing the same.

  2. This is beautifully written, Kariss. Your instincts on what writers need to do to create meaningful work is spot on. Knowing the audience and connecting to them with relevance is a true craft.

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