It gives them something to experience
Developing content with sense of audience transports people into an experience. It takes them on a journey.
In the past year, I’ve signed up to lessons on publishing community Reedsy. One of my favorites is about the Show, Don’t Tell principle where I learned that storytelling should be a sensory experience. Apparently, that’s how a writer can effectively draw readers in and keep them engaged. Writers do it by using dialogues to reveal personalities, describing a setting or moment as the character feels it, using body language to show emotions and omitting details to imply something. For example, instead of simply writing, “The room was really dark,” try making comparisons or exploring how the darkness feels or what memories it gives.
Here’s an excerpt from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women, which demonstrates how the Show, Don’t Tell principle allows readers to feel the overall mood of the scene as well as the characters’ emotions as they speak:
Something in his resolute tone made Jo look up quickly to find him looking down at her with an expression that assured her the dreaded moment had come, and made her put out her hand with an imploring, “No, Teddy, please, don’t!”
“I will and you must hear me. It’s no use, Jo, we’ve got to have it out, and the sooner the better for both of us,” he answered, getting flushed and excited all at once.
“Say what you like, then. I’ll listen,” said Jo, with a desperate sort of patience.
Laurie was a young lover, but he was in earnest, and meant to “have it out,” if he died in the attempt, so he plunged into the subject with characteristic impetuosity, saying in a voice that would get choky now and then, in spite of manful efforts to keep it steady—
“I’ve loved you ever since I’ve known you, Jo, couldn’t help it, you’ve been so good to me. I’ve tried to show it, but you wouldn’t let me; now I’m going to make you hear, and give me an answer, for I can’t go on so any longer.”
If you’ve realized you needed to put your audience first the next time you develop content, ask yourself these questions: “What do I want to achieve with this content? What is the purpose?”, “Am I using language that my audience could easily understand?”, “Am I reaching them through the right platform?”, “Will my content help my audience in any way?” or “Why would people care about this story?”
The relationship between storytelling and the audience is a huge topic, and we’ve only just scratched the surface here. But just remember: When you care about your audience, you’d have a better chance of truly connecting with them.