Thursday, August 11, 2011

Relating to Your Reader with Tal Yanai

You sit down to write a book when you feel passionate about something, having the desire to share it with others. So writing a book, in part, is the art of building relationships with people you don’t know, and who have no idea you even exist. Well, it’s not that bad, just makes the process a bit more challenging, and in the long run, makes you a better writer.

The process of relating to your readers starts with understanding your audience. After deciding on a targeted audience, ask yourself what do you know about them? For example, you decided to write a self help book for teens (hi, just like me….), what do you know about them? What do their daily activities look like and what motivates them to do or not to do things? What problems do teens face and what make them feel exposed and vulnerable? Once you have a good understanding of the issues, you positioned yourself as someone who can provide good answers.

Based on your understanding of the audience, you will be able to connect on issues that matter to them most. For example, showing you understand the emotional and moral dilemma teens experience when feeling obligated to do something as a result of peer pressure, will build your credibility and help the young readers stay open minded as they continue reading. In general, connecting with readers on the emotional level is a good way of bringing them into the story. You can bring back memories by providing details most readers would find easy to relate to. Most readers will be able to relate to your story when they read about what a teenager feels being in a summer camp and away from home. The images you will create in this part of the story will trigger an emotional memory for most of them. Almost anyone will think, “Oh yeah, I remember….” The period time of uncertainty, being away from the parents but still having a wonderful time with old or new friends can be used to open many emotional doors. If you write a Self Help book, for example, you can use this background to show that the character in the book, despite hesitations at first, was able to experience something new and exciting, and the same is possible for the readers, if they only gave it a chance.

Details bring your story alive; however, sometimes you are better off staying with more general descriptions, so not to lose a large part of the audience. Let’s say you decide to write a book about sport fans and spend too much time focusing on baseball, you might lose readers who like basketball better. Instead, you could describe in details experiences all fans have in comment, such as the excitement driving into the game, entering the stadium and the electricity in the air when the home team enters the field. Everyone who ever went to a ballgame would relate to your story, even if the background is a baseball field and not a basketball court.

Finally, be yourself! Your readers already read books about sport, self help, cooking, or home decorating. And they don’t mind reading another one! Let your creative inner voice lead your writing and find interesting angles to the story. This inner voice is there wanting to express itself for quite some time now. Find it, listen to it, create with it, and the readers will relate to it.

Meet Tal Yanai: During his formative years, Tal Yanai was not happy with his reality. What he was creating in his life was not in alignment with what he wanted in his heart or what he knew and deeply felt was possible.

For two years he worked as an historical analyst at the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, established by Steven Spielberg after the filming of Schindler’s List. As part of his job, he listened every day to testimonies of Holocaust survivors. Many were children or teenagers during WWII and their stories greatly influenced Tal’s decision to become involved with educating youth, so he proceeded to get his Teaching Credential in Social Studies.

Bringing two wonderful children into the world gave him a new sense of urgency to share and teach everything he’s learned about God and spirituality. Today, Tal teaches Hebrew and Judaic Studies in Temple Beth Hillel in the San Fernando Valley as he continues his quest to explore the meaning of soul and achieve his full potential as a spiritual teacher.


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