Interesting characters and situations that are not so far out the plot is lost. In SciFi I look mostly at the little things that cause big changes later and the kinds of beings who can bring about those little things. I do not like the shoot-em-up crash planes, cars and boats and ridiculous karate moves.
The basic thing is to have something to say and to say it in a way that entertains and educates.
A good and solid plot. Believable, human characters the reader can assimilate with.
A consistent time-line, and a gripping conclusion, whether the "good guys" win or lose may not be the obvious conclusion, but the "right" conclusion for the plot.
Basic ingredients of a story are simple: An interesting beginning, amiddle with tension that leads to the end.
The basic ingredients of a story are:
1. A strong plot with interesting sub-plots
............a. A protagonist with a specific goal or concern
............b. An antagonist who presents obstacles to the protagonist's goals.
............c. A beginning that sets the plot and grabs the reader
............c. social climate and mood established in first chapter
3. Interesting characters with strong characteristics
............a. Introduce characters as soon as practical in the story (main character/s in first chapter).
............b. Give each a tag or label that makes them easily recognizable by readers
example: a special smile, a stutter, shy, aggressive, etc.
............c. Introduce the problem or what will cause the problem.
............d. Set the mood with the type of story you’re telling: romance, mystery, suspense, etc.
............e. Hint at various things to come without giving away too much.
............f. Hint at some possibilities of solution in beginning of story, but be careful not to give away resolution or make it too easy to guess resolution.
4. Make the story believable.
............a. Do research if needed for inclusion of facts relating to specifics
............b. Make characters true-to-life—but exaggerate their character traits.
The most basic ingredient for me is a character and an action; the character wants to achieve some goal -- be it for good or ill -- and other characters help or hinder the main character or protagonist.
I like to keep it simple.
interest, catching the audience, development, getting a true sense of the words, vocabulary, and proper grammar. I correct 2100 a month on average. That should give you a sense of what is expected in our public schools today and how writing affects students life. Getting a real life experience (i.e LEA approach) before writing a story is an example of success.
The story is what the author wishes to tell. I found myself criticizing my stories before they get told with the idea of "who would want to read this?" when all I needed to ask was "why not?"
The author's story I believe should have a method of conveyance. A way to transport the reader to somewhere else other than where they are. So I guess that the one main ingredient is the ability of the author to allow the reader to suspend their world for the time to become transported to a new way of looking at the world. Authors are tour guides, they will take you to the place where they want you to go.
Um, I would say that you have to have some good characters. You have to have a good plot, and you should try to have an awesome twist!
A story needs to be useful, accomplish a transfer of ideas from the writer to the reader. Clarity and simplicity are important, details, step-by-step help the reader follow along the writers train of thought. The reader should be motivated to continue to read, share the story, do something useful with the new information.
I have to find a common ground with the reader, make them share my love of nature. Even if it is just a caption to a photograph, it has to be thought over carefully. The caption and the picture make the message, the "story" complete, even though I maintain that the picture should speak for itself.
Coherence, mystery and narrative centred on a very focused theme. Dan Brown has this down pat - you should check out his web site; he offers fantastic advice to all writers in formulating the answer to this very important question.
As I don't write fiction (except for a few children's stories many years ago, which I never submitted for publishing) my basic ingredients are a person to interview preferably in the environment they are comfortable with, which has their personal stamp on it.
To ensure a cathartic journey for the reader. Emotional involvement. Love, war and humour are very important on any given levels.
An interesting voice telling a strong tale. A viewpoint that makes the story fresh and above all, believability.
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Literary purists will give you a laundry list of elements you must have. My creative writing teachers would probably mark me down for my answer, too. But I honestly believe that the key element, as simple as it may be, is a compelling story that keeps the reader turning the pages. I've read novels and short stories that are missing the story - they ramble from one unrelated "happening" to another and this just doesn't work. Second, you've got to have characters that your reader loves or loves to hate. Something in all of those characters has to strike a chord with the reader - some trait, or history, or outlook, or belief of each character should evoke an emotion. If you've got those two elements, you're going to have a story that engages the reader and leaves them wanting more.