Centric means pertaining to or situated at the center. With that definition, “reader-centricity” implies making your reader central to your writing. Now, that raises the interesting question: Whom are your writing for? Are you writing a personal diary or journal that’s just for you? Are you writing to get something off your chest of out of your mind? Or are you going to try to sell your work to a specific audience?
If your answer to the last question is yes, then, when you think your writing is finished, you have two special assignments. First, proofread and edit your work for technical or flow problems. Second, read your work from a potential reader’s perspective.
This can be difficult, is definitely challenging, and requires patience on your part. Forget that you’re the author. Forget what you know as the author. As a reader, what issues or questions might you raise when reading the text? This means that you can’t simply read the words. You have to read slowly and with an open mind, seeing the text for the first time. Look for clear conveyance of concepts, facts, setting, characters, etc. Where you stumble, deal with these issues and questions. This will increase the strength of your writing.
Following are some ideas to keep in mind when proofing reader-centrically:
- Unless you’re writing to or for a technical audience, be careful of using unusual technical terms, jargon, uncommon abbreviations (especially of specialized organizations), unusual slang or idioms, and the like. Always keep in mind the reading and education level of your target audience. Reader-centricity.
- Avoid making yourself or your writing more important than your readers. Remember that your audience is tuned into station WIIFM — What’s In It For Me. So, make sure that you tell them (or that it’s obvious) what they’re going to get by reading your work. And even though you wrote this material because it was interesting to you, or you were excited by the topic or plot, make sure that it’s equally interesting for your readers. Reader-centricity.
- Make the layout of your work appealing. Maybe even hire a text or book designer. The use of headings, graphics, pictures, and the like break up the monotony of word after word after word. Reader-centricity.
So, hopefully, the message is clear. Decide, in advance, whom you are writing for. If it’s for a specific audience, write to that audience. Imagine you’re speaking to them. Will you bore them? Lose them? Put them to sleep? Or at the end, will you get a standing ovation? It’s all in your writing. Reader-centricity.
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