Putting the pieces together.
See, the best fiction … heck, the best writing … starts with a single germ of an idea. Something that sparks. Something that sets off a chain reaction.
If you’re lucky, that one thing is GOOD. It’s beautiful and holds together and deserves to be part of something bigger. But one good idea isn’t enough to make a story.
These include things like:
Three-dimensional characters. It’s characters that make a story interesting–if you don’t care about the people, who cares how brilliant the idea of what’s happening to them is? I’m a lot more likely to keep reading a less-than-stellar book if I care what happens to the characters, than to find out if the earth is going to explode.
Plot points that are interesting, creative, and believable (at least a little bit). You can be writing romance, mysteries, thrillers, or science-fiction, it doesn’t matter. What happens in your book has to make sense within the boundaries of your book. If your characters have superpowers, that’s fine, but make sure the rules are consistent. Your romantic leads can have a “cute” meeting, but don’t stretch my gullibility too far.
The best books, the ones I personally love the most, combine characters that I love (or at least, who evoke an emotional response, even if it’s hate) and that I’m interested in, and to whom interesting things happen. The more multi-layered and seamlessly woven a plot is, the more I like it, but it has to WORK.
All the pieces–the plot, the characters, the scope of the story–they all have to fit just right, like a jigsaw puzzle to be perfect. (Let’s not forget good writing, too, huh? Fascinating characters and an elaborate, perfect plot still won’t keep my interest if the actual writing is terrible.)
Because, when it all fits? When everything holds together, it’s like magic. One loose thread, one bad connection, and the entire thing can fall apart.
The act of finding and creating all those pieces, though? I love that part.