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Getting Reactions From Your Readers

Updated on November 6, 2015
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Most authors don’t think about what reactions they get from their readers beyond buying more books and writing reviews. But the reactions from your readers while they are reading are just as important and lead up to those other final reactions. How do they feel when they get to a certain scene? How do they react? That is very important in keeping a readership with you.

You Want Reactions

One of my greatest moments was when I got a message in the middle of the night from a reader/relative who had gotten to a scene they were not happy with. Yes, I was happy they got to an unhappy scene. In fact, they pretty much told me off for having the story go in that direction. They were so involved, they were angry with me. I loved it.

As a writer, you want to get a reaction out of your readers. Even if it is them getting mad at you, getting reactions is good. Why? Because that means they were into the story. They were a part of it. They owned it and therefore they are reacting to it. Crying during a sad or tender scene, yelling during a scary one, or getting angry when someone is betrayed are all good reactions. You got exactly what you wanted when you wrote the scene: the reader was deep into it.

A story that pulls you in is a story worth reading. I have to be careful when I read one of Danielle Steel’s books as I get so involved I’ll shout at a character. Once I threw the book across the room because I was mad at the character for the choice they made. I was deep into the book and loved it though I hated certain scenes. That makes a good read.

Any Reaction

Reactions can be great. Too many authors think that only high praise is the reaction they want. Yes, that is great, but does it show that the reader was deep into the story and part of it? Not always. Anger, sadness, and other intense emotions show that the reader connected to the characters and the plot.

I had one reviewer get upset over the fact that I had no explicit scenes in my book. She ranted about it over and over and gave it a low rating. To be honest, that was a good reaction as those who didn’t like those kinds of scenes were now drawn to my book. Sometimes the negative reactions can pay off in the end.

Other reviewers got upset and let me know it when my book ended on a cliffhanger. That was okay as it showed they were in the story. If they didn’t like the story, they couldn’t have cared less how it ended.

You want some kind of reaction, no matter what it is. Reaction means involvement.

Your Reaction

Don’t get your feathers ruffled if you get a reaction you weren’t expecting. Yes, that might happen initially, but pull away and detach yourself emotionally. I know, easier said than done, but practice makes perfect.

Get elated over the great reactions of praise and joy at reading your books. Enjoy those times.

You can do the same with the ‘negative’ reactions. I killed a character off in one of my stories. My readers went nuts. They liked him. While they were angry with me, I was pleased with their reaction. It matched my own as I was arguing with muse about killing him and it showed they were vested in the story emotionally. That is what you want. Don’t worry if readers are mad at you. Worry if they want to read the next book or not.

What Creates Reaction

There is no one answer to this, but some things will cause most people to react. It all depends on the reader.

Connectable Characters

When a reader connects to a character, they are very emotionally involved with everything they do. They’ll cheer for them. They’ll yell at them. They’ll cry with them.

Hard Decisions

Anytime a character has a hard decision to make, readers can get involved. They’ll try to change the character’s mind. They’ll yell at them for choosing the wrong door.

Real Life Experiences

Write a story about a cancer patient and readers will react. Why? Because either they have been through it or know someone who has. They’ll remember things and cry. They’ll get emotional.


Bring in something sad and readers will react. It can be the death of a dog or the breakup of a marriage. Everyone experiences sorrow in their lives which means they can connect and react easily.


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