Knowing your audience is like in “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise consistently saying “knowing your enemy”. Your audience is an aspect you have to consider whenever you produce a piece of writing. Sure in the post-modern world where everyone is allowed to be an individual and express themselves via blog, twitter, etc, the scope of audience has increased mightily. Also, due to luminous technological advancements we are subjected to information and artistic overload a couple of links away. So basically, we have obstacles, mighty obstacles, when considering audience.
The ability to acknowledge your audience within your content and outside of your content is key. You must consider what your audience already understands before they read your writing, and what they eventually will understand. You cannot dictate the latter but you can dictate the present. This dictation comes down to what you want your readers to bluntly understand and what you want their imagination to generate. How do you manipulate this? Easy, you follow an instinctual rule when composing your diction and terminology.
You must adapt to your language as if you were the audience. A certain word, image, or statement will stick out and punch you in the face, in comparison to the rest of the content. To create a better aura with your audience, you must accept the fact that you have an audience and they deserve to be acknowledged. You are not writing just for yourself, but to express your ideas to others through conscious diction. I understand the creative writing notion that we all want to have our own style and not to sacrifice your style for other readers who might be too “ignorant” to understand it, but doggone it, toughen up and maintain your individuality when conforming. A good sense of balance is returnable to all of life’s situations.
The above statement appears like a vexing conundrum but really as a writer deep down you should have some inclination about what I am talking about. To further my theory I will explain this phenomenon within a genre example so I do not sound like some abstract loser. In science fiction and fantasy you use objects outside of our reality to further the setting, plot, or characters. Often times these objects are so fantastical and imaginative the audience can barely relate to them even through the concepts of them are rooted in reality. Science fiction writers will focus so much on creating an appealing universe that they will thoroughly neglect crucial road signs for their audiences. This problem must be in the back of your mind as you compose, especially when dealing with science fiction fantasy.
You do not need to dumb down your writing to compensate for a large audience, you simply have to communicate your writing in a semi-logical manner. This means describing things articulately and with unique analogies, but not being abstract for the sake of personal gratification. In science fiction fantasy you should use objects of fiction to portray the most beautiful and terrifying aspects of human emotion, not to loose the audience in some lofty description of a walking battle armor.
To wrap up this semi-cohesive rant about audience especially in terms of science fiction and fantasy, I just want to state this key fact. Remember what its like to be an audience and you will remember what its like to write for one, no matter how different in size, demographic or belief that audience is, paying attention to them is the first bridge over that enigmatic moat.