As you may have read yesterday, I had a bit of a crisis where my editor came back and asked me to change the ending of one of my story segments. I spent a good part of the day pouting because it was one of the parts that I thought really worked.
But then I reminded myself that I am a professional writer, which means that I am NOT ALLOWED to fall back on that idea that if a reader doesn't think something works, then it must be the reader's fault. I'm sorry, but that thinking is for amateurs.
Let me repeat that, because I think it is a critical idea that separates good writers from bad:
If your reader doesn't understand something in your story, it is YOUR fault as the writer, not their fault as the reader.
If you reader doesn't think something works, it means you have failed to communicate motivation, action, something. Just to make things complicated, sometimes what a reader says doesn't work isn't always the problem. They just know something is wrong, but can't put their finger on it and may give vague feedback that doesn't always make sense. This is where having savvy critique partners (who are writers, not just readers) who can put it in the language of the craft is essential.
For example, a reader may say "I didn't like it when Jane jumped out of the car." What didn't your reader like? The action? The timing? What Jane said when she threw herself out? Your knee-jerk reaction might be "But I can't cut that scene! It's critical to the action!"
When the problem is verbalized by a writer, it becomes clearer. "I don't think you've clearly shown Jane's motivation to jump out the car." Suddenly, you know how to fix the problem -- no, wait -- you know how to make your story BETTER. Your reader was right.
Remember, this is not the blame game. You cannot blame the reader for your mistakes as a writer.
The good news is that if you can accept this truth, it shows that you are a good enough writer to identify and fix your issues.