Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Three tips on Writing for an Audience



When you have a message to get across to your tribe, whoever that may be, you’ll want to create a customer profile. This should be an in-depth description of who your typical reader is.
  • No matter what you're writing, whether it's LGBT Marine SciFi or Current Events for Conservatives, you need to know your audience. 
  • 1. Know who you're writing to. 
  • There are two specific sets of info you need to get down, psychographic and demographic. 
  • Psychographic lies within lifestyle, attitudes, and general interests. I wouldn't talk about polyamory if I'm writing to a community founded on preserving traditionally family values.
  • Demographic deals with age, gender, class, ethnicity and more. Are your characters relatable? If you're writing a cautionary tale about socialism for a republican manifesto you might not want to identify your protagonist as a Native American, or a woman, or Catholic. Just sayin...

  • 2. Find out where your audience is.
  • When it comes time to reach your audience you need to know where they hangout. Whether you're traditionally published or not, you are in charge of your own self promotion. 
  • What social media are they on? What websites do they hang out on? Are they email or app people? You'll save yourself a lot of wasted time and energy marketing your work if you conduct a little research.

  • 3. Address them directly. Just one sentence lets them know you see them.
  • Make sure you have at least one of these:
  •  All first time exotic dancers should know...
  • or
  • At the rifle and pistol range, we all know why a 9mm is referred to as a people hunting gun...
  • Make sure it's addressed to whoever your audience is.
Remember, your audience is smart. Always write to the smartest people in the room. Don't be afraid to be funny and utilize complex concepts.

If anyone would like to add some pointers, please do in the comments below. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Being the little guy...

I consider myself a very fortunate person. I live in an amazing city, receive aide for graduate school, and work multiple kick-ass jobs in the arts to support myself. While I've put other dreams like having a family or receiving a bigger paycheck on hold I get to stay passionate about my art. My burning love for maintaining this relationship is why I stay in this expensive city. 

Working hard to live in San Francisco is one thing, but contending with these newbie contentious tech bros is another. I'm not trying to call out all tech people. I'm related to a tech person, but many of the tech people in San Francisco are making bankers look like socialist softies.

Justin Keller, a Tech Bro, just wrote an open letter to the city that reads thusly:

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over three years, (really, that long?) and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town… Worst of all, it is unsafe. (In short, you are a scared little bitch.)
This holiday weekend, I had my parents in town from Santa Barbara (sounds fancy!)  and relatives from Denver and Rochester New York (so, nice places) . Unfortunately, there was three separate incidents and countless times that we were approached for money and harassed. (yawn)
The first incident involved a homeless drunken man in the morning coming up to their car and leaning up against it. Another bystander got frustrated with the drunken man, and they got into a heated pushing and shoving altercation.
The second incident occurred as we were leaving Tadich Grill in the financial district. A distraught, and high person was right in front of the restaurant, yelling, screaming, yelling about cocaine, and even, attempted to pull his pants down and show his genitals.
Finally, last night Valentines, I was at Kabuki Theater inside watching a movie. About two hours into the film, a man stumbled in the front door. He proceeded to walk into the theater, down the aisle to the front, wobbled toward the emergency door, opened it, and then took his shirt off and laid down. He then came back into the theater shielding his eyes from the running projector. My girlfriend was terrified and myself and many people ran out of the theater.
What are you going to do to address this problem? The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day. I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place. (Shit, where did that violin go? I need that violin.)



I am telling you, there is going to be a revolution. People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger. The city needs to tackle this problem head on, it can no longer ignore it and let people do whatever they want in the city. I don’t have a magic solution… It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff[1] seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence. Money and political pressure can make change. So it is time to start making progress, or we as citizens will make a change in leadership and elect new officials who can.
Democracy is not the last stop in politics. In-fact, the order of progression according to Socrates via Plato in the Republic goes: timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and finally tyranny. Socrates argues that a society will decay and pass through each government in succession, eventually becoming a tyranny. (Well done. In two lines you managed to bring shame to whatever academic institution shat you out.)
“The greater my city, the greater the individual.”

The week before last we hosted our Literary Salon at a North Beach bar called Vesuvio. I was waiting for my boyfriend after our Skyped discussion when I was approached by a group of young girls.

"We're waiting for a table and your group left. Are you leaving?" asks the most assertive one.
"No, I'm waiting for someone. We were just Skyping our Literary Salon," I said waiting for my boyfriend and martini.
"Oh, why here?"
"Neal Cassidy, Jack Keroac, Allen Ginsberg among others wrote and spoke here."
"Are they famous? Should I know them?"
"Wait, why are you here?" I asked.
"I'm from New York and these guys are from Chicago. We just got hired by (tech co. that chirps) and this is our meet up."
"Oh!" I laughed in her face because of too many drinks. 
"Oh what?"
"I don't expect you to know any of those people!"
"You San Franciscans, um "writer's" are just mad we make more money. We contribute so much to this economy!"

I had nothing to say. I just stared stupidly. This resulted in my boyfriend begging me to "just let it go" every time I fumed over it for the rest of the week.

Dear Tech Girl,

We're not mad you make money. We're mad that you are morons and make money.

Love,

Writer from Vesuvio

Who feels the same? Thank you for allowing me the rant.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group! Using - Keep Out - Signs As A Guide



It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for a post to Alex J. Cavanaugh's brain child, http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/! Click on the link to join! Don't forget to subscribe to the newsletter. It's full of helpful tips for writers trying to make it in this fickle business.

In my writing cohort at http://www.ciis.edu/ in San Francisco we've been discussing time, memory, and metaphor. While going through our critiques I could see that some of the best writing within each piece tended to be the most controversial.

When I pointed this out, a visual artist and writer in our group laughed.

"Duh!" 

Spiked Lily played with his tactical pen. 

We all stared at him.

"Keep Out, signs are a guide." he said.


It's so true. As we were pointing out the strongest parts of each piece we were insecure about addressing the topics. Unabashedly writing about sex, power struggles, mental illness, addiction, oh hell - the human condition in its entirety holds peoples interest. 

That's why www.goodreads.com/book/show/17225311-tampa has and is continuing to sell so well, Lolita will always be a must read classic, and Oedipus Rex seems to sneak its way into our Mother's Day display. (Naughty booksellers!)


I've been focused on the rewrite of my master thesis, working title North Beach. North Beach details the life of a writer/ stripper who is the unlikely sleuth in the mysterious death of a book collector. The story highlights parts of the city that aren't talked about in polite circles, but are even more popular than ever among the tech and banking crowd.

I've faced questions as a feminist. I've been told I set women back a thousand years. I had no idea I was so powerful. I'm trying to be more secure in my subversive choices. Do you have any advice?

Hope everyone had an awesome January!

Monday, February 1, 2016

The one most important tip to make your writing stand out!

In my graduate cohort we have a visual artist who is a fantastic writer. He paints surreal landscapes with word combinations that describe the indescribable. I asked him what his secret is.

He had one word for it. Contrast.


So much creative writing falls flat due to a simple 'lack there of''. Contrast is so important. Characters going from sad to sadder isn't much of a transition. Let's be honest. Taking a character from ecstatic to miserable is more appealing to the reader.

When you're writing a love story that's all roses and parades its sweetness turns bland as the palate has nothing sour to compare it to. A war story that's all mud, blood, and agony greys out in its hopelessness. 

If you're describing piles of dead bodies decaying into yellow sludge for miles it's hard to make it beautiful, but nothing is impossible. Why not have the decaying viscous yellow matter remind the narrator of the vanilla birthday batter his momma used to whip up for him for his favorite cake? She would even let him lick the yellow cake mix straight out of the bowl on his special day. See what i did just there? I made you feel something.





Check out the annual bloom on my Angel Wing Begonia next to Raider Nation Official (with hayseed attached to possible dead body in trunk).

If the moon is hanging in the sky like a crescent crystal ornament before the knife comes down to stab the observer to death you might be more scared. When you kill something weak, frail, and unlikable nobody cares. Killing something full of hope and beauty will never fail to horrify.

Contrast.

Thank you Spiked Lily. Xoxo

Do you have any special techniques? I love comments! Please share yours below.