The real VIP
Writers sometimes stop to imagine how much readers will like their story. The writer sees a reader in her mind, reading voraciously, even ignoring the “It’s time for dinner!” call from downstairs.
We want readers to howl at the funny bits. We want angular lumps to appear in their throats when we intend the story to feel sad and lonely. And we want hearts to pound furiously when the story is in a perilous moment of crisis.
But how do we create something that other people will like? We aren’t other people, so we can’t really know for sure what other people prefer.
Do we write a story that we think other people will like?
Writers do this. However, elves like another approach: write for yourself. Yes, write a story that knocks your own striped socks off! If you are chuckling and dabbing your eyes with a tissue and feeling your chest get painfully tight as you write, then you are writing a story that is perfect for you.
Elves always think of themselves as the VIP in the audience. Why not imagine yourself as this Very Important Person? Why not imagine yourself sitting in the front row?
New idea: If a single person likes a story, there is an excellent chance that others will like it, too. The reason that this single person should be you is that you will know if a story appeals to you. You can’t, however, know if a story is going to be right for anyone else. If you create a story by guessing the likes and dislikes of others, you will be doing just that—guessing! Instead of guessing, elves strongly suggest making yourself the happy reader.
(Scoble the illustrator elf sketches several ideas before settling on the best one for a tip. The sketch below was his other idea for this tip. I cannot explain this sketch, but it does make me laugh.)