I've taken a page from the big online marketing gurus, and twisted it to work for me as a novelist. They want you to figure out your avatar, your one perfect customer, and create all your sales and marketing information focused on what that one person would love.
Well, it works great for staying focused in your story, too!
But instead of creating a fictional avatar - I'm already creating tons of fictional characters! - I think of the one person that I think would like this book more than anyone else I know. I write different genres, so I have a different "perfect reader" for each one.
For example, there's a reader named Donna who loved the first chapter excerpt/teaser for my Strays of Loon Lake series, so much so that she emailed me a couple times a year to ask me if it was done yet. :) When I write in that series now, Donna is the person I have in mind to entertain.
My Traverse City in Love series has a different flavor - chick lit rather than sweet romantic comedy - and my friend Rachel is the main person I'm writing for. She thinks I'm funny, so I'm always asking myself, "Would Rachel think this is funny? Would that make her laugh?"
On the other hand, I wrote my superhero books, Adventures of Lewis and Clarke, mostly to entertain myself! However, when my friend Stephanie told me how much she enjoyed them, I thought my writing focus might be tighter if I started using Stephanie as my reader avatar for that series.
I give a couple more examples in the episode, but the point is to help you figure out who your perfect reader is. Can you think of a real person you can write for? Can you imagine how that could help you stay more focused and not go off in every different direction as you're writing? I hope you think of someone and give this idea a try. :-D