While “writing to the market” is generally a bad idea, as I said in my earlier post, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take into consideration what your readers expect from a story.
Laura Yeager’s What Fiction Readers Want lists a wide array of reasons a reader will pick up a book. Although some are dependent on the selected genre, any number of these could cause a reader to put a story down before giving it its full due. For instance, the Happily Ever After (HEA) is a must in romance, but not in literary stories.
The flip side of that is: What do you want readers to take away from your story? Identifying this idea can help you identify your story’s theme. Plotter or pantser, you can take it from there. As Linda Seger advises, Push Boundaries and Make no Excuses as you write. Make your reader’s experience a vivid one by packing your story with emotion. Bring your reader inside your protagonist so s/he can feel every emotion as it takes place on the page, bringing the story to vibrant life. Again, the notion of visualization comes into play. Use your writer’s imagination to play your story in your head, as if in a movie theater. Just don’t forget to note all the details as they play out, to share the experience as fully as possible with readers. Give them a satisfying experience, and they’ll come back for more.