Writing for your Audience ~ Sue Brown: Outside the Margins

Join us as Sue Brown goes Outside the Margins.

Sue-Brown-OTMWriting for your Audience

What’s the most over-used word in your area? Where I live, one of the most overused words at the end of a sentence is “… right?”

I live in south London. Okay, okay, to be more precise, on the edge of south-west London, but I have always lived around south London. Like most places there are a variety of accents around here, depending on where you were born. I hate to use the terms common or posh, but some are definitely well-spoken and some are… less. I live between those who sound like they’re sucking lemons and others who’ve never learned to pronounce their T’s Oh, and if you’re sitting on a bus full of teenagers, they will shout even if the recipient of the conversation is sitting next to them and every other word begins with F.

I know that’s a dreadful generalisation but I want you to get the picture. I guess I come somewhere in the middle. I’m also middle-aged (so I don’t shout on buses but I may use the F-word a little too much), and went to a fairly good school.

I read an article recently about people up in arms about a ‘vulgar and gratuitous’ book for young adults about gender identity issues in high school. The book, Raziel Reid’s debut novel When Everything Feels like the Movies, won a Governor General’s award in Canada for literary fiction.


“In a statement to the Citizen, the 25-year-old author said he set out to reflect what young people talk about, and how they talk about it.

“I’m not promoting a culture, I’m depicting one — and I’m doing it with the graphic language that culture uses, and with the themes that culture is consumed with: fame, drugs, sex, and selfies,” Reid said.”

The thing is, Raziel Reid really knows his target audience. Young adults. He’s 25. Nothing he’s depicting is going to shock them. The people who are upset about it are not the target audience. They are my generation. It seems to me they don’t want to be reminded what the younger generation is like. We’re not talking Pollyanna and the Waltons here.

Why am I writing this blog? Because sometimes I feel caught between a rock and a hard place in the way I depict my Londoners, both in age and in speech. I don’t like writing younger characters for this very reason.

One of the things as an author is to know your target audience. Most of my readers tend to be mainly forties and above, and many of you live in America. The difference between me and Raziel Reid is that I write for my target audience and not the area in which I live. If I wrote an accurate depiction of the twenty somethings around here I would have editors going mad at the repetition of ‘right’ and ‘y’know?’ and you’d be needing a south London glossary in the back of the book. The characters would also never get off their mobile phones. Oh Grindr, I admit you are beyond me.

Last week Russell T. Davies’ new series started, Cucumber and Banana. If you haven’t seen it, Cucumber centres around fifty-somethings and Banana around late teen and early twenty-somethings. If you followed Twitter for the shows it was really easy to tell the age of the person tweeting by which show they preferred. Yep, I preferred Cucumber because I understood their issues, I live with two teenagers. Banana is only too real


So, readers, and authors, what would you prefer? An accurate depiction of the area and characters, warts and all, to get a real feel of the area? Or one that’s easier to understand?


~ Sue Brown

About Sue Brown

Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has got expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favourite television series. The kissing was tender and Sue realised she wanted to write about these men. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Sue’s internet links







Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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