Sol Stein’s Claim about a Writer’s Intentions
Inappropriate and Correct Intentions
As an editor and publisher, I frequently heard that
an editor’s job was to help the writer realize his intentions.
That is true except for the fact that
many writers have inappropriate intentions.
A Writer's Intentions
Stein makes this claim about writers:
As an editor and publisher, I frequently heard that an editor’s job was to help the writer realize his intentions. That is true except for the fact that many writers have inappropriate intentions.
Stein then defines why many writers have inappropriate intentions:
The four most common I’ve heard are “I’m expressing myself"; “I have something to say”; “I want to be loved by readers”; and “I need money.” Those are all occasional outcomes of the correct intention, which is to provide the reader with an experience that is superior to the experiences the reader encounters in everyday life.
Focus on the Target
These words remind me of one of my first books: Book Writing Made Simple Volume 3: Do You Know What Your Reader Really Wants?
The goal of shooting an arrow into a target is a clear metaphor of what it takes to make writing a book simple.
Every aspect of writing your book involves your ability to identify and hit your target. This applies to clear focus on your thesis and on your own purpose for writing your book. It also applies to clear focus on the ideal reader of your book. The clearer you can be about your targeted reader, the simpler it will be for you to write your book.
Before we go any further, let's start with one of the biggest obstacles to targeting your ideal reader. This obstacle is any lurking desire to have everyone to read your book. The notion that your book can appeal to everyone will inevitably complicate every part of your book writing process. No book appeals to everyone. The corollary of this fact is that if you try to write a book for everyone, your book will satisfy no one.
Aiming At Two Targets With One Arrow
Your book writing made simple goal is to think clearly about the ideal reader of your book and aim your book for that reader. Think of aiming an arrow at target. How many targets can you hit with one arrow?
Archers don't stand between two targets and try to hit both of them with the same arrow. It can't be done. And yet, writers attempt similar impossible feats when they try to aim in more than one direction at the same time with the same book.
One of the clearest examples I know is of a friend who struggled to write a book for more than three years. Over the course of those years, she sent multiple chapter drafts of her book to me, asking for my advice.
Very early in the process, I saw clearly that she was trying to write for two very different types of readers. One was a reader who was expert on the topic she was writing about. The other was a reader who knew nothing about the topic but had a serious problem related to the topic.
The result of aiming for such dramatically different readers was something like the effect you would get by trying to introduce algebra to a group of high school freshmen at the same time you try to present a paper on some aspect of differential calculus to mathematics professors. The professors don't need to learn algebra and the teenagers can't possibly understand the advanced math. Neither group would be happy to be in the same room together.
As kindly as I could, I suggested that she choose one type of reader and write the book for that reader. However, she was unwilling to let go of her goal of targeting both readers. Why not? Why did she persist trying to make one book serve two very different purposes?
I suspect that she was so focused on what she wanted the book to do for her that she didn't pay sufficient attention to what her book was going to do for her readers.
My claim is that the clearer you can be about who would want to read your book, and why that person would want to read it, the simpler your book writing will be. With that clarity of focus on your reader, you will be much more likely to accomplish your own purpose for your book (Book Writing Made Simple Volume 3, pages 5-7) .
Amazon Description of Stein on Writing
Stein on Writing provides immediately useful advice for all writers of fiction and nonfiction, whether they are newcomers or old hands, students or instructors, amateurs or professionals. As the always clear and direct Stein explains here, "This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions--how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." With examples from bestsellers as well as from students' drafts, Stein offers detailed sections on characterization, dialogue, pacing, flashbacks, trimming away flabby wording, the so-called "triage" method of revision, using the techniques of fiction to enliven nonfiction, and more.[Original Post October 18, 2014]
The Book Writing Made Simple Series is intended for people who want to develop their book writing skills. If you have ever dreamed of writing your own book but didn't quite know how, this series gives you clear directions about where to start, what you need to know to write it, and how to finish your book.
Book Writing Made Simple (Volume 3) Do You Know What Your Reader Really Wants? focuses on writing for your reader. This simple question helps you identify your ideal reader. The clearer you can be about your ideal reader, the simpler it will be for you to accomplish your own purpose for your book and satisfy your intended reader.
Available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy right now!
Book Writing Made Simple 3-in-1: How to Write a Book the Simple Way is for people who are confused about how to write and publish their own books.
You might be one of them. Maybe you have dreamed of writing your own book but don’t know where to start or what to do. Maybe you have already tried to write a book but got so bogged down in the process that you never finished. Or maybe you have already written a published a book, but it was a painful, drawn-out process, and you know that here has to be a better way. There is. The better way to write a book is the simple way.
Available on Amazon in either Kindle or paperback versions. Click Buy Now From Amazon to get your copy now.