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Writing For Audiences

Writing is impossible with no context.

Writing requires some kind of purpose or goal. That's part of the context.

Writing requires some concept of an audience. Who will read it? That's part of the context.

Does your audience speak English? That's important. If you are writing for people who speak English, that's an audience.

Is your audience people who are alive today, have internet access, and know how to read English? That affects writing decisions.

Are you focused on people reading your essay in the next 3 months? The next 3 years? The next 30 years? These are different audiences.

Are you writing stuff that you think is good? You're part of the audience.


Writers usually try to write for multiple different people at the same time. Not one-size-fits-all. That'd be too hard. But they aim for one-size-fits-many.

You can pick a single person, like yourself, and write primarily for that audience. But then whenever you write something you think would confuse most people, you change it. Whenever you think something would be a problem for lots of readers, you change it. This removes most of the quirks from your writing and makes it one-size-fits-many.

Some ways to try to please multiple people in the audience at the same time are messier. It can be a mess because audience members have contradictory ideas. How do you appeal to both sides of a disagreement?

It's generally best to take sides in disagreements that are important to what you're saying.

People often try to be neutral about controversies so they don't alienate either side.


Writing is communication.

Writing is always done in the context of some problem.

Having an idea of the problem(s) you're trying to solve helps you write better.

Because writing communicates, there's always an audience (person(s) receiving the communication) involved.

Even if the audience is only the writer.

Even if the writer never rereads what they write, and then deletes it, they communicates with themselves while they write it.

So the audience is always involved in the problem(s) writing addresses.

Generically, action always happens in context and tries to address some problems. And specifically writing involves an audience.


There are many ways to write the same idea.

Which way to write something depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Different ways have different advantages and disadvantages.

Which way to write it depends on the audience. Which way will be clearest to them? Which way will mislead them about something?

Without thinking about your audience, it's hard to make good choices about what to include in your writing. There's always more that could be said about a topic. You can't include it all.

Writing is always selective. The writer selects which stuff to include out of the infinity of possible ideas to write about.

When arguing a point, a writer decides which arguments to include and which not to mention. You can't mention every possible argument on a topic.

Some writers don't give their audience much thought.

They write for conventional people by default. But they don't realize they're doing that.

How do they decide which way to write something? By what seems normal to them.

People often write carelessly and haphazardly. That's another option.


Elliot Temple on August 29, 2016

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