Some writers may be excused from that concern, but I doubt it. Even poets and novelists have to consider audience when they write. It’s simply that writers who write for a living sometimes have a more pressing need to remember that concern. They have to acknowledge they are writing to and for someone. If they forget, they might as well quit writing. They won’t have an audience for very long if they’re more concerned with their own words rather than with their readers and their readers’ needs.
What do readers need? They need to feel valued, to be appreciated as readers and human beings. More specifically, they need the following:
- Context. Context allows readers to connect with the material being presented. It allows them to find a link between what they read and their own knowledge and experiences.
- Predictability. Readers need to understand the writer’s purpose and how the writer plans to achieve it.
- Information. Specifics are essential and include facts, examples, statistics, and other details. Those things make the subject clear, concrete, interesting, and convincing.
- Respect. Readers need to sense that a writer respects their values, beliefs, background, and intelligence.
- Voice. Readers need to know that the writer is a real person.
- Clarity and correctness. Readers appreciate clean copy. They don’t want to slog through a writer’s blog post or article.
Those six things may not be the only things readers need, but they are a good starting point. What would you add to the list?