Question: Why Do We Freak Out/Worry/Cry Like a Baby?

Posted April 17, 2014 by Carmel in Question / 57 Comments


Why do we freak out when we KNOW for a fact that the main character doesn’t die (he/she’s in the next installment’s blurb), or that a happily-ever-after is pretty much guaranteed (i.e. paranormal romance, contemporary, etc)? I think it’s because as readers we become so invested in the characters that when something bad happens to them we take it to heart. Personally, when I’m engrossed in a novel, I’m more of a live-in-the-moment kind of gal, meaning that I’m just enjoying the ride the way that the author intended, so when those oh shit moments happen I’m not thinking about the eventual HEA. My whole world becomes that thing that made me freak out/worry/cry like a baby.

Plus, in my opinion if an author can make you feel all of those things, then mission accomplished!

Why Do We Freak Out/Worry/Cry Like a Baby?

Carmel Signature

Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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57 responses to “Question: Why Do We Freak Out/Worry/Cry Like a Baby?

  1. Ummm . . . b/c it’s about the journey, not the destination, LOL? For me anyway. The inevitable HEA doesn’t negate whatever’s happening BEFORE the HEA, and a lot of times, there’s a lot of pain, misunderstanding, and frustration before you get there. And like you said—it’s the mark of a good author if they can hit you with the FEELS πŸ˜‰

  2. I think it’s definitely the fact that we get so absorbed in the books, as if we were really there while everything happens that all those emotions just hit us. A good author and well written book is for sure going to help. My fiance sometimes gives me weird looks when I’m reading and just burst out crying lol.

  3. Feels! They make my cold dead heart feel. Ok so I don’t have a cold dead heart but it sounds super awesome. I think if a book doesn’t give me some physical reaction (smile, laugh, cry, etc) then it really isn’t a good book.

  4. “Feelings, wo-o-o feelings, nothing more than feelings.” An author has done their job if they can make me stay in the moment with them and feel what the characters feel. When I start looking past the moment then my attention has slipped.

    β€œThe most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.”
    ― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

  5. I agree it is the journey with the character through all of his/her trials . And if the author can get me to cry over something …then job well done πŸ™‚

  6. Ha! You know, I never thought about it but you are right, we are so silly sometimes aren’t we?

    But I agree, I think it is because we are wrapped up in the now, not the later. And hey, if an author can do that, make you forget there is another book out there with the character alive and well, then they have done their job and done it well. πŸ˜‰

  7. Please. I, of course, am too emotionally strong to cry from a book. Sometimes allergies make my eyes water at certain locations, and don’t even ask about Old Yeller, and oh geez.

    To answer the question, I can get emotional invested in a hurry, and off in books one has several hours of investment t going, longer even than a tear jerker movie.

  8. I am a huge book crier. If an author writes really well, I have the tendency to feel whatever the character feels. And like you said, when we get attached to some characters, it’s easier to relate to them and to sympathize with whatever they’re going through. Books that make me cry, laugh and want to bash my head on the table are my favorites! <3

  9. I love when a book makes me cry/freak out! In fact, I go looking for books like that. If a book can make me cry or invoke very strong emotions from me, that’s actually one of the first indications I should give the book 5 stars. 4 and 5 stars both mean I highly recommend a novel, but that fifth star usually means that the book touched me on some emotional level πŸ™‚

  10. I’m a huge freaker-outer. I can’t help it! I’m definitely that person that flips to the back of the book just to make sure a character is alive and well or a couple is together before I start reading. Even if I know those things to be true already, I still have to check for myself. If on the off chance I find someone important dies or there’s a brutal break up (book two in a series, I’m looking at you), sometimes I have to set the book aside and spend a few days working up the courage to dive into it:)

  11. Haha, same. Though.. I feel like if it does happen (like Allegiant for instance), then it’s even more hurtful since we want and expect a HEA because.. well.. reading is escapism. We don’t read to get hurtful stuff thrown at us or have our favorite characters killed off. We read because we want fiction, HEA-s, feels, amazing reads etc. If not, then we’d probably all read realistic fiction or non-fiction >.< Anyhow, yep! As long as there's a HEA, I'm all down for the crying and hurt between the beginning and the HEA end πŸ˜€

  12. A good author makes you enjoy a book but a great author will bring up every emotion out of the reader. I’ve cried through a couple of books but I think it’s not a bad thing, you’re in the moment and invested in the characters so much you can’t help yourself! Those are the books you recommend and never forget πŸ™‚

  13. I was gonna say feels, but then Mary, above me, has that covered! XD But it’s true — those freak-out moments happen to the CHARACTERS, so even when WE know it’s gonna work out, THEY don’t, and it’s just heart-crushing, or flail-inducing, or FEELS-FILLED because the character is going through this stuff that’s so hard to watch! This really only applies to character in whom we’re fully invested, though. Boring characters and predictability (a HEA, or the survival of the character) do not mix well. πŸ˜‰

  14. I think you said it about right. I’m just in the moment and taking the journey. I do like knowing that things will be okay, it helps keep me from freaking out too much, but I still get caught up in the emotional journey.

    • Exactly! You don’t bawl to the point of no return, because you know that things will probably work out in the end, but the emotional connection helps make the journey better.

  15. That is part of the fun in reading, but I admit if I get to uptight worrying about a character, I skip to the end or check the synopsis for the next book if it is out to make sure the character survives.

  16. Oh, I totally agree – “mission accomplished!” πŸ™‚ I often read books knowing there is a HEA, and often find myself worried about how the heroes and heroines will make it out of the trouble they are in.

  17. It’s a true testament to an author that they can make us take the character’s struggles to heart and worry/fret/cry along side of them even when we KNOW that they’re going to make it through. There have been so many times when I’ve started a series that already has 5+ books and the hero/heroine is in danger. I get all scared that maybe something won’t happen and have to tell myself it’s going to be alright…there are however many more books still to come and the main character isn’t going to get bumped off!

  18. Even if you know – it’s nice to see how the characters get to that point. They make all kinds of mistakes leading up to the HEA so it’s still stressful to read and see how they overcome things.

  19. I think it’s when we get so attached to the character that we think “they couldn’t possibly…” You’re right about us being so engrossed in the novel that sometimes we don’t see it coming either!

  20. We because we’re in lurrrve with the character/pairing, and the author has proven to be a magic-weaver xDDD I’m a total fangirl for magic weavers, as any true bookaholic it is. We love it when it hurts, and breaks our hearts, and makes us love to bits the whole experience πŸ˜€
    Which sounds so much kinkier than it is, lol!!

  21. For me personally, it’s because I get so attached to the characters that I couldn’t bear to see anything happen to them. Characters are like real people to me, and if something happens to a character, it’s like a long-lost friend getting hurt. I’m not sure if that makes since, but some characters in books are just so well-developed and so… real that it’s impossible not to care about them.

  22. I’m so desensitized by happy endings that I am sometimes robbed of whatever emotions I might have had when a character is in danger of dying, because I just know that they’re not going to actually die. Especially in fantasy/sci-fi/paranormal where people don’t STAY dead. I love it when the author writes well enough to get me emotionally invested and make me question whether or not that character will actually survive, though!

    On the other hand, I love love LOVE when an author doesn’t pull punches (Jay Kristoff, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth) because sometimes in life sacrifice is necessary. People die – it happens! When the author can rip my heart out and make me ugly cry it earns bonus points from me πŸ™‚

  23. Personally I think this is why people were so upset with the Divergent series or even sometimes gets upset with the Game of Thrones series. I mean… HELLO I read and read only to be let down. Game of Thrones everyone gets killed every time I turn around, and those are long long long books. So a lot of time is put into those!! I have stopped reading Game of Thrones anyways till Martin finishes the series. I can’t wait 10 years in between books!

  24. You’re right. When I get connected with the characters I do end up crying either out of joy or sadness. Somehow it’s natural to me. Great post, Carmel πŸ™‚

  25. It takes a lot for me to feel emotionally impacted by a book but it does happen and when i do get emotionally involved i’m for all intents and purposes a little baby. i’ll cry, throw the book across the room, yell, stomp my feet and just plain old get angry. I guess i sometimes just get so invested and end up caring about the characters so much i just want them to be okay.
    I also think it’s because so many authors have (recently) THROWN HUGE CURVEBALLS at us in series finales that i just don’t trust for anybody to be safe in books anymore. LOL
    Great discussion post
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  26. I get quite emotionally invested in series and the characters and have to admit I love happy endings, I can’t say there have been many books where I’ve needed the Kleenex but if I’m still thinking about it after I’ve finished then its a great sign of fabulous storytelling.

    A great post! πŸ™‚

  27. ME TOO. I’m always in-with-the-feels…sometimes the author will drop these HUGE hints for catastrophe and I still don’t get it because I’m too busy shipping and fangirling and then BOOM. Tragedy. And I dribble into a mess. >.< But, you're totally right. That's absolutely kudos to the writer, right?!!

  28. Apparently fictional characters are sometimes better than real life pweeps. Oh, and you can visit them anytime they want to and they won’t ever change… they’re like best friends and a different family. ^o^

    Though if someone threatens said character, I probably wouldn’t go all nails and claws and start screeching “GET YOUR HANDS OFF PUCK. HE’S MINE. O_O”