I’ve had this subject I’ve wanted to talk about. Some might find it offensive. Some might disagree with me. Some might not like it. So I hesitate to bring it up. However, the last time I truly worried about what someone thought of me was in high school, so I think I’ll go for it. I want to talk about world views.
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Everyone has one, whether they know it or not. You might not even be able to define yours. But it’s there, and it’s reflected in everything you do. Even your writing.
My world view definitely shines through my writing. If asked, I’d label myself a conservative reformed Christian. My protagonists usually share my belief system, and live their lives according to those beliefs. My bad guys also live in this system: they are sinners and do evil things. But my books don’t “preach” a Christian message. They don’t contain “come to Jesus” moments, or alter calls, or have overt Christian themes. I don’t make my bad guys a little nicer so they’re non-offensive to Christian readers. I’m a Christian writer, but I hesitate to say I write Christian books. I write suspense, mystery, and fantasy books that have an ultra-subtle Christian message.
Your world view not only reflects in your writing, it also affects your target audience. I know some people would be frustrated by my books because my heroines don’t jump in the sack with the handsome hero when he first shows up in her life. She doesn’t have sex with the handsome hero once she realizes she’s in love with him, either. That first scenario happens a lot in romance books, and the second scenario happens almost all the time in nearly every genre. But it doesn’t fit into my world view, and I don’t feel comfortable writing it. So I don’t.
I’m an avid reader, and I’ll admit I’m abnormal in this: I don’t often stick to authors who share my world view. I read plenty of books where there is a sex scene or two, and most of the time it doesn’t offend me. I also read books where characters curse, or drink too much, or disrespect their parents. I still enjoy them. I am not a typical reader, so I ruin my own point. But I digress.
There was one book I read recently that truly offended me. I won’t tell the author’s name or the book, but do want to share why I disliked the book so much. The author portrayed all women as sluts, willing to sleep with any man as long as she got out of it what she wanted. I’m not sure if the author thought this lifestyle was a valid way to search for fulfillment and love, or if she behaves in her own life the same way her characters did, but I found I couldn’t identify with any of the main characters. Their world view was too different from mine.
I’m taking too long to get to my point. I need to identify my audience and strive to please them. It’s impossible to please ALL readers, so why set myself up for failure? My books won’t appeal to hedonists or post-modernists, no matter what genre they read. I probably won’t even attract the mainstream evangelical crowd. My target audience is ultra-specific. Most of them will share my world view. Those that don’t will read my books because it’s a genre they love. Identifying my audience will help me market my books so they get to the readers who will enjoy them the most. If you haven’t identified your target audience yet, it’s worth the effort to figure it out.
If you have already identified your target audience, share it in the comments section.