One of the main mistakes made by new writers is that they write the story but they don’t know who they are writing for. Think about this for a minute. Who will want to read your story?
If you write Young Adult, then your main character needs to care about the same things as a YA reader. If you write Middle Grade, what the reader cares about is totally different than that of a YA reader. There is a ton of difference between what a ten year old wants as opposed to that of a teenager. They might as well be from different planets.
If you are a forty-nine year old married woman who writes romance, you need to really remember what it was like to be a twenty-something single girl. Yes, experience comes with age, but the younger reader doesn’t have your memories to draw on. They don’t see what you have seen. It is your job to put yourself into their shoes when you tell your story. You write for them. Not for you.
They don’t yet care about casserole recipes, or private school enrollments. They don’t have arthritis in their feet, so they want to wear sexy heels. They’re not wondering if the romantic lead will be a good provider for their children.
If your Romantic female protagonist is forty when the story begins, don’t expect as many readers. Sure, you can write for that audience. But you won’t sell as many books because you’re cutting out the traditional romance audience of 20-35 females.
When you puzzle this out, some people will think that you’re being mercenary. You’re compromising the true vision of the story! Hogwash my evil darlings. They can jump in the car and drive with no destination, plans, or hotel rooms at night. They can also sleep in the back seat under a bridge. Let them write books that include only their age group, and waste their time because there won’t be readers. (Then they’ll complain that no one understands true literature and genius.)
You aren’t a traitor because you have a destination when you get in the car. You’re certainly smarter than them when you research who exactly reads romance, or science fiction, or mysteries.
Throw all of that high-minded crap aside. You write for an audience. Figure out who they are before you start your story.