When you start writing a story of any kind, you must consider the audience you are addressing. This involves age, education, cultural background and gender. Let’s consider each of these elements individually, taking into account basic dos and don’ts. The first consideration is age.

When considering age, even the words and sentence structure may be important. For younger readers, simple and repetitive is best but not the only way. Direct stories with lessons are received well. Relationships and expressions of love have to take the younger reader into account as well. Writing about a mother’s love or father’s is appropriate. Including displays of affection between the parental characters can also be appropriate. The fumbling expressions of love between others can almost require humor, unless that is the lesson of the work, that expressions of love can seem really strange to a young person. The Dr. Seuss series of books are the most obvious examples to look at for communicating with the youngest of readers

For teens and young adults, topic must appear significant and adult. This is especially true for expressions of love between young people. Most successful young adult books mirror the experience of the readers. Older people, especially parents, just do not understand the depth of their love and everything is life altering. The Twilight series was so successful because it met this formula.

As the audience age increases, stories can become more complex or more simple as the individual tastes of readers stratifies. Complex mysteries, investigations, histories or intrigues grabs attention, as well as the simple story of good over evil or social reconciliation. In these stories, the opportunity to address love interests in a more intimate form becomes a valid option. How explicit the story becomes will definitely limit the acceptability of the work across your readership.

The true art is spanning multiple if not all age groups. Even rather young readers, although they may not be able to read it themselves, love hearing more complex stories. The Grimm’s fairy tales and The Hobbit, Treasure Island, Around the World in 80 Days are just some examples of such complex stories that appeal to younger readers. They are also stories that young adults and even older readers enjoy. If we consider the handling of love and relationships in all of these works, we can see a consistent method. In all of these works, true affection is repaid with true affection except in the case of acknowledged evil. Abusing the affection of anyone is repaid with terrible consequences. Thwarted love due to evil is redeemed and the evil is punished.

This article focused on writing about relationships across various age groups. There are similar paths when evaluating gender, cultural background and education. For example, you would not want to target a religiously serious group with sexually explicit material. You also would not target teenage boys with a story about a mother tickling her baby’s toes. This may seem obvious, but it is always a good plan to read you work with your target audience in mind.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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