Knowing how you want your story to affect your reader is really 9/10 of the battle. The rest of it is nothing more than just putting to paper what you have in your head.
Time for a confession.
I watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. I absolutely love this show. Almost without fail, something in the show makes me laugh/smile, as well as makes me cry. It’s horrible television, and I understand this. However, what does that say about the level of storytelling that it can push the laughter button as well as pull on the heart strings well enough that you want to tear up/cry sometime during every episode? It means (to me) that these writers are masters of their craft, because it’s done on a consistent basis.
As a creator, this is what you should aspire to. You should aspire to affect your reader every time they pick up one of your books. It doesn’t matter if it’s laughter or tugging on the heart strings or somewhere in-between: your goal should be to affect the reader in some way.
I remember reading JMS’s run on Spider-Man, and how he had Spidey beaten and bloody and passed out at home on his couch, and then Aunt May walked in and saw him. She then did what any family member would do: she considered her love for her nephew (whom she raised from childhood) against what he was doing (which she didn’t agree with for a long time, but knew in her heart that he never did anyone any harm), and she went on a spree of telling people what she thought—namely, J Jonah Jameson, and she went so far as to cancel her subscription of the Bugle. The story was timely, extremely well paced, and brought tears to my eyes.
JMS knew how he was going to affect some readers with this story, and did it justice. It moved me so much that I wrote a letter to Marvel (which was unpublished).
As a creator, this is what you should strive to do. This is your goal. Affecting the reader is something you should always strive to accomplish. This is the real way you’ll gain immortality. (Go ahead and look at all of the seminal runs of creators on characters. It is either about length, or about how a story or set of stories affected the reader. More and more, it’s about the latter than it is the former.)