A few days ago I had a brief low-level industry job: theatre checker. I spent the day in a theater counting the audience for a particular film that was opening that weekend. Every showing. Every screen.
What struck me that day was that as people walked in the doors it was pretty easy to tell which show they were going to see.
- Vampire: young women, in gaggles or with attendant parent or boyfriend. Then leap ahead a few years to middle aged single women, usually unescorted.
- Straight up comedy: hopefully upwardly mobile couples and some families. A scattering of seniors.
- Well-publicized animated folk tale: upwardly mobile and international families. A scattering of seniors.
- # 2 animated musical: not-so-upwardly mobile families and some couples on dates.
What this means for you as a writer is that it helps to know your audience.
I learned from a mentor long ago to visualize a representative individual from the target audience. Give them a physical description, even a name. Whenever you work on your story visualize that person. Act as though you are telling that individual the story.
This visualization technique is especially helpful if you are working on more than one story.
It sounds hokey but it does help. Give it a try.