1) Addictive 1st Chapter
The first few pages really need to grab the reader and pull them into the story, make their fingers itch to turn the page and find out what happens next.
Characters should come alive in the reader’s mind like tiny actors on the book’s stage.
Dialog needs to sound like real people are speaking the words, not too formal or stiff. Reading it out loud is great way to check to make sure it actually sounds as it should, like something that came out that particular character’s mouth.
4) Readers Can Relate to It
People like to see a little of themselves when they read, to be able to relate to either the character’s feelings, the setting, or some element. Even if the MC is a purple rocket scientist from Mars, readers could relate to his views on his in-laws, his fear of spiders, or his taste in coffee.
Unexpected plot twists and other fun surprises really make a story stand out. No one wants to predict exactly what’s going to happen on the next page, so writers need to throw in some curves.
Even the darkest horror or sad story needs a touch of humor somewhere to lighten the tone, in my opinion. You don’t have to add a stand-up comic to a scene full of ax murderers, but a few funny lines somewhere in the book give the reader an emotional break before the next killer walks in.
Whether the story happens in a mansion or a rundown apartment, in a ritzy hotel or the middle of a swamp, the reader should feel like they are there in the midst of it all. When writing, think about what the characters are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.
8) Great Ending
All endings don’t have to be happy, but they need to be satisfying and tie up the loose ends. Don’t leave your readers hanging. Whether it’s a stand alone novel or part of a series, leave them satisfied yet eager to read your next book.