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Thursday, January 3, 2013

More 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?

"During the first draft, I try not to think about anything other than getting some sort of a story onto the page. When I revise, I think about readers, but always from a positive perspective. What would make this really cool? How can I take this to the next level? What surprises can I throw in next? Not everyone will like what you do, but that’s the same for everything in life." - Sara Walsh, author of The Dark Light.

"I do, but I try not to. That sounds a bit selfish, but if I think too much about what specific people think I would second-guess everything I wrote. Also, I don't think I would be happy with it later if I changed it to suit someone else. If I write something the way I think it needs to be, I have only myself to blame if I don't like it after a few years." - Stefan Bachmann, author of The Peculiar.

"I still write for Teenage Me, so in a way, I’m still trying to impress her with cliffhanger endings and scenes." - Robin Bridges, author of The Unfailing Light.

"The only parts that worry me when writing is how readers (especially parents and librarians) will react to edgier bits of the story. Alcohol and sex references, even small ones, leave a lasting impact, so each should be in the story for a solid, valid reason. I try to remove all gratuitous references to these more taboo elements." - P.J. Hoover, author of Solstice.

"Never. Then again, I was never one of those readers that asked of a book, 'why did the author do that to me?'" - Lara Avery, author of Anything But Ordinary.

"Not as much as my editor does." - Adam Gidwitz, author of In a Glass Grimmly.

"Yes and no. I always want to make sure a story is satisfying to the reader, since readers are the ones that ultimately buy the books! But at the same time, I’ve also found that if I follow my instincts, and if I am reacting deeply to my writing, then someone else will react that way, too. It’s a constant tug of war." - Sharon Cameron, author of The Dark Unwinding.

"Yes. I do think about these things. I craft the ending of a chapter as a cliffhanger so the reader will turn the page. It’s not enough to sell the book. I’m hoping it will actually be read from start to finish." - Suzanne Selfors, author of The Sweetest Spell.

"Oh yes! Often! However, the trick is to balance those concerns with the need to tell the story I want to tell. If I worry too much about potential reader reactions, it will be paralyzing to my creativity. And ultimately, not every reader will get the story I want to tell. Every reader brings her own background and expectations to a book, and there's no way I can guarantee she will read the book the way I meant it. I can only do my best to write the book I mean to write, and hope the reader will meet me halfway." - Malinda Lo, author of Adaptation

"Yes! And Tempest does basically have a cliffhanger so I only allowed myself to do this if it was what the story had been working towards the whole time. In other words, it had to be that way for a big long list of reasons or else I wouldn’t consider the cliffhanger. I also worry about relying on one big moment or reveal to carry a book, especially a thriller or mystery type story, which Tempest is. I call these The Sixth Sense moments. If you knew Bruce Willis was actually dead in the whole movie it would ruin everything (oops, sorry if you haven’t seen that movie). So, I try to always write in a way that doesn’t allow spoilers to completely ruin the book…the reader will still want to see how it plays out." - Julie Cross, author of Tempest.

"I love my readers, but I never worry about them." - A.S. King, author of Ask the Passengers.

Stop by Thursday to find out what the authors consider their biggest writerly convenience. 

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