According to the inimitable Steve Almond, the only two questions readers care about are these:
2. What do they care about?
“It doesn’t especially matter what your heroine cares about. as long as she cares a lot. Love and death are the usual suspects, but a great novel just might arise from a nun’s thwarted effort to remove dental floss from between her teeth (to borrow an example from Kurt Vonnegut). As long as her passion places her in peril, you’re in business.”
Sure, style matters. As does voice and technique and talent and all sorts of other writerly stuff.
But I think there’s a boatload of wisdom in Almond’s distillation.
So, what do you think?