The best and most relatable stories fit the audience. This creates intimacy, a byproduct of familiarity.
Writers who misunderstand who they’re writing to will create stories that are either too broad (“everyone can relate” isn’t really what you’re aiming for) or way too narrow (“three people and my mom will get this borderline inside joke of a story”).
Skilled storytelling writers will thoughtfully consider a balance in the narrative that appeals to an audience in the right season of life.
(By the way, it should be obvious that this is the right approach to take, but in case it isn’t, remember all literature is categorized this way — youth fiction, juvenile fiction, adult fiction, etc.)
Here’s an example of how a story can be aged to fit the audience.
The Original Story
One day, ___character____ woke up and realized everything had changed. __Object_____ wasn’t where they had left it. __Scenario-based noun____ felt off. They got out of bed and went to the bathroom. Oh my word: what happened last night? Was it their worst nightmare: __Noun_______? No, no, it must have just been… they look up in the mirror and gasp, seeing for the first time _____something surprising to this character_________________. Something changed. It may have been ____adj____ yesterday but it’s ____adj_____ today. Now what? They make a key decision. Today, for the first time, I’m going to ___verb___________. Then I’ll finally get _____achievement/resolution________. Yep, that’s the answer. They turn away from the mirror, armed with fresh resolve that starting now, they will be __adj________, ____adj_____, and ____adj_______. After all, you only live once.
It was morning. A school day. This much Maggie knew since she always had a headache before school, but something about her room this morning felt backward. Like a playground at 3 AM or an empty hallway. Simultaneously strange and familiar.
The room was quiet. On the other side of it, across tangles of dirty laundry, Jesse’s bed was empty. No muffled Rhianna song thrumming from the bathroom. No deadpan “wake up” or the sound of spit hitting the sink. Only the cold ring of silence.
Then Maggie remembered her sister left for college last week. Their room was only her room now. For as long as she could remember, Maggie had woken up and completed her sister's morning routine, step-by-step. It was their ritual. If Jesse went right, Maggie went right. If Jesse grew taller, Maggie wore wedges. If Jesse had perfect teeth, Maggie got braces.
It was automatic. Something Maggie had never really questioned since she’d always loved being told she looked like a carbon copy of her sister.
As if by instinct, she felt her body beginning to move in that familiar way. But this time, she stopped herself.
Maybe it was the morning brain fog, or the nagging pull of cinnamon raisin toast that waited for her downstairs, but right then, Maggie decided she didn’t want to complete her sister’s morning routine anymore. No more skincare, flat iron, eyeliner, or minty toothpaste.
She was going to start her own morning routine… just maybe not today. Today, Maggie just wanted to get out of that room.
She shoved her books into her bag and took a quick glimpse at herself in the mirror. Green and black plaid PJs. Thick, black-rimmed glasses. Hair gathered at the nape of her neck in a dirty, old scrunchie.
She smiled at herself. Yeah, she saw the resemblance. She did look like her sister, but more than anything, she looked like herself. And for the first time, Maggie liked that.
Lucas awoke to the cacophony of one too many scheduled alarms. His eyes barely opened to the morning sun.
The sluggish trip to the bathroom felt more dreamlike than real.
Something was different. As the rain played a broken pattern on the frosted glass pane near the shower, the murky memories of last night came into focus. For the first time, Lucas saw himself not as a child but as an adult.
Yesterday, the feeling felt like pressure—building over time but staying under control.
Last night, though, the great wave finally broke. In his usual trot home from work, he realized the transience of his current situation. With college finally behind him, the planned structure of life receded.
What was left was only the unknown. The questions of purpose, drive and ambition still rattled in his skull from the night before.
Today, more than other days, felt ripe with opportunity.
Lucas saw in front of him many paths but no guide. For the first time in his life, he was in complete control.
He resolved to focus on finding his footing in this new stage of life. Scared by the sheer vastness of this undertaking, he turned from the mirror. Instead of practical questions of what to do and what to say, his thoughts raced around ideas of identity and the essence of being.
“I may never find these answers,” Lucas muttered to himself. But life is about trying. After all, you only live once.
Michelle woke to the sounds of tiny feet scampering down the hallway, children fighting over the prized blue race car … “It’s mine!” “No! It’s MINE!” The morning sun came blazing through the off-white floor length curtains, greeting her well before she’d ever be ready.
She rubs her eyes and pulls back her hair. The dull ache in her brain reminds her that the second glass of wine last night wasn’t the best decision. Never doing that again… She closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath. Here we go. She’s up. She’s on the move.
She steps out of her room, her safe and quiet place, into the hallway toward the main living area. As she walks down the hallway, she catches a quick glimpse of herself in the mirror.
Damn, do I ever look tired. She lets out another heavy sigh. Will I ever feel like myself again? Everything has changed.
Is this… it? Making lunches, wiping noses, calming the never-ending chaos with a gentle presence. She rubs her face, pushing and pulling the skin of her face this way and that.
Frustrated with herself, she stands up tall and shakes off the weight of the shitty self talk. She turns away from the mirror, pledging the make today the day she revives the woman she knows herself to be. If not now, when?
The piercing shriek of Jack’s alarm cut through his whiskey-induced hangover, thrusting him back into the joyous realities that represented his life. He rolled over, squinting as the glare of the morning light crept through the cracked, broken blinds.
Broken, like everything else in his life. Relationships. Career. Finances. As mid-life crises went, he’d really hit the jackpot, he mused, wincing as he hauled himself upright and stumbled toward the bathroom.
The bathroom’s fluorescent strip lights clicked on, burning into his eyeballs. Looking in the mirror, Jack barely recognized himself. Just months ago, he’d been a high-flying attorney in a corner office, a picket-fenced house in the suburbs, doting family. The man that looked back at him was an unkempt, unshaven mess, wearing yesterday’s clothes and the distinct odor of one-too-many.
“What happened, man? How did we get here?”
He’d had friends this had happened to. Had, because they weren’t friends anymore: nobody knew what or where they were. He resolved that wouldn’t happen to him. It was time to pull himself out of this spiral before he went any deeper.
It was a new day after all.
A Story for a 75 Year Old
The morning sun pierced Jimmy’s eyes through the curtain of his dimly lit room. Overnight he had transformed from a boy into a man, even if he was only 16 years old. As he wiped the morning sweat from his brow, he questioned everything.
Was he really ready? Could he really escape the cotton fields of West Texas? Would his mother actually sign off on it? There was still time to back out.
As if someone snapped their fingers, he noticed a change in an instant. He stood a little taller. His boyish face looked a little more rugged. His resolve was strengthened. This was the start of a new beginning, a page that remained unwritten. After all, Vietnam was calling and he would do anything to get away from the life he was born into.
A Story for Your Audience
At Hire a Writer, we really only have one fiction writer. Everyone who wrote here is a professional marketing copywriter. So that should help you understand — storytelling is a valuable skill for any kind of writer. It connects you to your audience. It shifts paradigms and tugs at heartstrings and unlocks wonder.