Audience = People + Questions. Sometimes we write to specific people like friends or relatives. This happens when we write letters or send e-mail messages. But often, and especially in school, we’re trying to write for a broader audience. In this case, the audience could be defined as a group of people of a certain age (kids between the ages of 9 and 12), a particular set of circumstances (parents of who have kids in our school), a specific interest (people who want ideas for fun family vacations), or any combination. The better you know your audience, the more you’ll be able to understand and anticipate the kinds of questions they will have about your topic.
Please note: Many kids want to know if they can have more than one audience. The answer is «Yes, of course you can but just pick one anyway.» While it’s true that many pieces are written to appeal to more than one group of people, it’s hard to write to more than one audience at a time because each one has slightly different needs. If you focus on the one audience that means the most to you, and you do a good job, other audiences will probably enjoy your piece, too.
Hooking my audience and reeling them in. I have to know my audience. In fact, sometimes I can’t even start a piece unless I know exactly who I’m writing for. I think this is because writing seems so much like talking to me. As I write a piece, and read it back to myself as I go along, I imagine I’m saying the words to someone else, someone in my audience. I try to imagine how they’ll react. I want my readers to understand and enjoy my writing. I also want them to be influenced by it, to trust me, to believe what I have to say, and to have it affect them in a meaningful way. To accomplish this, I have to know who they are so I can write things just right.
Is there another possible audience? As I think here about my audience, I’m very conscious of the fact that while I am writing primarily to parents, certain kids might enjoy my piece, too. I’m going to keep this thought in the back of my mind as I write. I want my piece to be read by as many people as possible. But I also know that if I try to write to all of them, I won’t be able to truly reach any of them because my writing won’t be clear and focused.