Do you pander to your audience at their level or do you demand that they stretch and grow to meet or exceed your level of communication? 

I truly would like to hear your response to this question

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When I started my first novel I read quite a bit about the expectations of sci-fi/speculative fiction readers.

They were characterized as having a higher-than-average level of education and vocabulary, which I welcomed. For those who have read Discovery you know that there's an abundance of real science and technology throughout the book.

I wrote it the way I did because I didn't want any of my peers to read it and be taken out of the story, to have to suspend their disbelief, because of sloppy writing, science, technology, etc.

Some have complained mildly about the detail in which I invested, but they say the same thing about Clancy!  {chuckle}

Another point that I discovered in my research is that most books of this type are traditionally written at about the sixth grade level to make them accessible to the so-called "average" reader. Discovery and Conception have been rated as being at about the 9th or 10th grade level.

So, I guess my answer to TC's original question is, I write at a level that will support the story, then hope/expect readers to maybe stretch themselves to absorb it if they aren't accustomed to reading that level of detail.

My fear is that someone will say "forget about it" when the slogging gets tough and put the book aside. In Conception I tried to back it down a notch, just in case...

I like to get down and dirty and meet people where they are. Snobbery will only impress other snobs.

This is a difficult question, because there is no point in having a product that no one understands or can relate to. Who would buy it? You want it to be in a language that the common person can understand, but you also want them to grow and learn from your work. Somewhere in the middle is best.

When I write I don't really consider whether I'm on a particular level. I just tell the story I it comes out. I'm not a writer with a million dollar vocabulary but, at the same, I'm constantly seeking the best way to say something. So as I write I'm constantly learning and growing. Now i'm @ the point where I worry about the best sentence and word choice. However way the story comes out, I just hope, its sincere. As far as levels go, I'll leave that up to the reader to decide.

     After a second look at the original post I have another observation to share. Since we all write essentially for money, I have taken on the responsibility to try to learn and understand exactly how to be the best writer I can.

     This means learning my craft. It's not enough to have a great story if I can't convey it in a manner that short-changes the means to present it to the reader. So that means being mindful of my vocabulary, examining the complexity of the concepts and how they are presented, and not insulting the intelligence of my readers.

     I still read books on writing and how to be a better novelist given that at this time I have at least four more novels to write. Novelist John Gardner wrote several books on writing that I have found invaluable even though I still have quite a bit of trouble with some of his simpler suggestions. But, as they say, I am a work in progress.

Do I pander to my audience at their level or do I demand that they stretch and grow to meet or exceed my level of communication? That is something to ponder.

I write for an audience that likes what I like. As a writer I want to tell a story I want to read. As such, the question is a moot point. When I first started writing science fiction I came off as being above my audience. I explained a technology the first time I introduced it in the story. "He used a blaster. The technology had been made practical during the expansion . . . blah blah blah." Big mistake. Now, anytime I introduce a new bit of technology or mention something high tech or specialized I write as if the reader understands. "He used a CRT." What is a CRT you may ask. "He tapped out the call code on his CRT. Someone from Engineering answered." The reader will figure it out and hopefully appreciate me not spoon feeding the information, and thus not waste their time with superfluous words.


Great and informative answers every one. Your input is appreciated. Than you,

I do both, because I like both. I am happy to cater to the audience and make something that I hope will be profitable. At the same time, if bills are paid I am equally happy to make something experimental, that maybe no one will get into or connect very well with. As long as I am making something true to myself, I am fine either way.

When I here the term "Artist" I think visual artist.  Which I am.  Life long.  I always get grief for my work being "too" much on some level.  But I still roll. I was a courtroom illustrator while directing a indie Black Age Guild that I launched at age 19 course the older folks were resistant.  Here is a bit of my works along with the dates.  Pandering or leading.

Album cover for George Clinton 1983.

Cover fo Captain Sky 1978

For the Belizian Reggae band Sterio  1987

For Fantasy Lifestyle World 1980

Electric City 1976

For Playboy's OUI Magazine 1974


For the Black Arts Guild in 1970

More for ONLI STUDIOS.  1977 through 2014

These are all samples published and Copyrighted to Turtel Onli.  Since an image is worth a thousand words were is my contribution to your prompt.

Fine art is so folks can buy and own. Or see in galleries to appreciate. Commercial art to be part of a product. Like a book, poster, TV ad etc. I thought I would add some of my work to illuminate the discussion.  I fine that folks that are visually troubled about themselves tend to have a limited value, use or appreciation of art that may explore more spectacular depictions of "themselves".

This is why so many folks do not have "favorite visual artists....but have faves in literature, music, fashion, and song.

Artsts tend to make are1. based on impulse, 2. for more spiritual reason, 3. to document moments in life or fantasy and lastly 4. To illustrate a narrative. The art I do for me, I keep private. My practice is both in Fine and Commercial art.

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