I’ve talked a lot about various craft issues that make your book readable and approachable for readers, but one thing will mean the difference between a reader rushing through your book or putting it down and not going back.
I call this idea Make It Matter.
What is “it?” Each scene you write, every important character, and the book itself.
How do you make each scene, character, and the book itself matter to the reader?
The reader must care. I’m talking not just interest in what is happening but an emotional investment.
That murder being solved might be an interesting puzzle, but if it doesn’t have an emotional component for the reader and the main character, most readers won’t care.
I’ve put down three different mysteries in the last month because the victim was such a pile of scum that I wanted to give the murderer a medal, and the sleuth had no emotional investment in solving the crime. I didn’t care about any of it so I stopped reading.
In a romance, the love story should be life changing for the two characters and emotionally fulfilling for the reader. Two people shacking up forever for great sex isn’t emotionally fulfilling. Two people having a true meeting of the minds and hearts is.
No quest in the world of fantasy will matter much if the reader doesn’t care about the characters, and the goal of the quest is selfish.
So, check every scene, the important characters, and finally, the book itself to make sure that you made it matter.