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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Author Insight: Reader Reactions

While writing, do you ever worry how readers will react to a scene, a turn of events or a cliffhanger ending?

"Never. That’s one of my rules, never censor. Ever." - Daniel Marks, author of Velveteen.

"Honestly, I was more worried about what my dad might think. Certain scenes were very difficult for me to write because they were so emotionally raw, but they were necessary so I pushed through." - Lenore Appelhans, author of Level 2.

"Sure. I mean, of course. Particularly with something like The Innocents, which is a series rather than a stand-alone book. You want an ending to each installment that leaves the reader at the edge of his/her seat, just dying to know what happens next. Thinking about the reader’s reaction too much, though, can get you into trouble. Like, it can paralyze you. It sounds narcissistic, but you have to be writing for yourself otherwise it won’t work." - Lili Peloquin, author of The Innocents

"I worry about readers all the time. On one level, I'm writing for my own enjoyment, but I also want to be an effective communicator. It's easy to write for yourself alone, because you know your own mind pretty well, but writing for someone else is very challenging--you're trying to intuit the reactions of a stranger. That said, it's also important not to worry too much. Worry can be paralyzing." - Steven Arntson, author of The Wrap-Up List.

"Yes. I worried a lot as I wrote The Day Before, wondering if what was happening to the characters would irritate some people or some might think it wasn't plausible. But in the end, I just have to go with my gut, and write through the doubt. I think one of the hardest things an author has to do is push the worry/doubt/whatever you want to call it away and write. But you have to. If my agent or editor or a trusted reader tells me it's an issue, that's when I'll be more concerned." - Lisa Schroeder, author of Falling for You

"I do worry about the audience, but I worry much more about my own reaction to the scene I’m writing. If I’m not excited, surprised, or moved by something, how can I expect my readers to be?" - Allen Zadoff, author of Since You Left Me.

"Only to hope they like it, are intrigued by it, or touched by it in some way. Reader reactions to characterizations, situations, historical details, etc., seem unpredictable. What one reader dislikes (or in some cases disapproves of) another admires." - Pamela Mingle, author of Kissing Shakespeare.

"Sometimes—never because I don’t trust the readers, but because I sometimes have trouble trusting myself and worry that character motivations might not come through as clearly as I picture them in my head." - Kathleen Peacock, author of Hemlock.

"Sometimes I do worry, yes. If it's a pervasive worry, I'll have a trusted beta reader give me their thoughts on the scene, but usually I try to trust my own judgement." - Trish Doller, author of Something Like Normal

"Yes. I laugh maniacally as I picture the sweet, sweet tears of despair as readers realise it's 3 a.m. and _this_ chapter has ended on a cliffhanger as well. Mwahahaha!" - Helen Keeble, autor of Fang Girl

"I think I worry more about how readers react to the whole book and story vs. a specific scene, turn of events, or cliffhanger. However, my first readers (my family members) really really really hate it when people die, so I sometimes dread reading a character death to them. They have been known to withhold my dinner and say mean things about me for weeks following something like this." - Susan Vaught, author of Freaks Like Us

Find out Thursday if the rest of the authors worry how their readers will react!

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