Have you ever read a book that felt like it was written just for you? Like the writer could practically see into your soul? 

It feels like suddenly everything has become aligned. You learn something you’ve been needing. You gain a new perspective. You feel validated and seen. It is a beautiful thing.

I’ve talked a lot about how it’s important to understand the emotional journey that your protagonist is going to go on in your story, how they’re going to change as a person over the course of the story. 

This really boils down to the point you are trying to make with your book, the message you are trying to convey about life, the human experience, love, etc. 

But who is receiving that message? And why is that message going to matter to them? 

Your ideal reader is someone who needs the exact type of story you are telling. They will connect most with your protagonist, who have their own life experiences that will lend themselves to deeply understanding your story. 

Understanding your ideal reader is key to shaping the story. 

You might start with imagining details about their lives, like age, gender, geographical location, etc. But then we want to ask some questions that will get at the heart of the point you are trying to make with your story.

  • What keeps this person up at night?
  • What does this person want more than anything in the world?
  • What is this person struggling with?
  • What will this person relate to in my story?

When we read, we are subconsciously (or sometimes consciously) seeking validation and healing for the ways that we experience pain. 

If your book can provide answers to the big life questions your reader is asking, they will connect to your story on an even deeper level.

Sometimes your ideal audience is a shadowy image of unnamed people. Other times, it’s someone very specific.

When I wrote my middle grade novel Unspoken, my ideal reader was my daughter. She was the inspiration for one of the characters and I wanted her to see the possibilities within the struggles she was facing at the time. More recently, I wrote an essay where the ideal reader was my father, who passed away long before the story came to the page. This person doesn’t have to be someone who will ever see it, but you still want to acknowledge that they are there and what they need from your story.

The deeper you understand your story, the more your reader will be impacted by it.

Clarifying your ideal reader is one way to do just that. If you want the point of your story to come across loud and clear, you need to understand what your ideal reader is bringing to the table. 

If you’re writing something right now, who is your audience? Comment below and let me know!