I think you need to be able to tie-in word pictures: images of what people wear to what scene you paint whether a sandy beach or a downtown historical setting. I think a love interest for a hero is a good thing as well as a villian who makes the hero work at staying true to his convictions.
I think a story's unique voice is of the utmost important. Finding one's voice is the great goal of writing. Anyone can write but it takes great vulnerability, experimentation, and patience to allow yourself to find the voice which suit your characters and story. Not to censor oneself is the key. If one can sit down and allow the writing to flow - without interfering with it - this is what will create a powerful story. Editing is not a first-draft exercise. The first draft shoud be about getting thoughts on to paper.
After voice, I think coming up with a bulletproof plot (well-structured and thoought out) as well as characterisation are incredibly important.
Interesting characters and an engaging story. Of course, good writing is essential, but one has to ask, by whose definition? English is a dynamic language and writers have to keep up with what is going on under the guise of "common usage." Like it or not, we have to know what tools are at our disposal.
The basic ingredients are:
1. Good, dynamic characters. Static ones are OK to a point, but your main characters should have distinct personalities.
2. A good plot. It doesn't matter if it's out of this world, or a basic plot. It has to be engaging, believable, and must have an original spin by the author.
3. I believe every story needs, action, romance, and humor in it. Life is full of these elements and a good story needs them too.
For me, there must be a feeling that the author is fascinated with her own story that she's sharing with me to entice me to want to read it. I imagine that's what drives me as I write mine, as well. I am fascinated with my character(s)' experiences throughout--even as I create them. It almost seems, to me, that they take on a life of their own and I am merely the narrator of their exploits and adventures.
problems and how to get the solution uniquely!
The basic ingredients of a story are an intriguing exposition, engaging characters and something to make the reader care about what happens next.
Even if your story is Fantasy, it must still be believable to the the person reading your story. I don't think writing just to be sensational stays in the readers mind very long. If your story makes your reader feel they are part of your story, you have won that reader for life.
There are some basic story structure theories. http://ow.ly/9ibUu
Tension--not drama, drama is too much, but a little tension, a little discomfort to let the reader know the characters are human, that they're awkward and horrible and amazing just like everyone else. A little humor, a little sadness, something to make the reader feel invested. And an open-ended resolution. Nothing is worse than a writer telling you everything you need to know.
Every screenplay is different. I tend to use a lot of strong characters. If the audience identifies with your character then that's half the battle. Some screenplays are written purely for shock value, some are written to hit that indie market.
I think once you keep the reader/audience interested and keep them guessing you'll be fine. Nobody wants a predictable script.
My literal answer is that I think the basic ingredients of a story are boring. I'm significantly tired of the simple goodguybadguyfightwin formula. If there have to be goodguys and badguys, I like to write the story more from the badguy's perspective, coming up with rational reasons for him to be bad. To my thinking, a villain is really just a disappointed hero: a guy who, but for circumstances, would have lived happily ever after; when the goodguy got in his way and prevented that, the villain didn't turn into a monster so much as dropped into damage control.
When Humpty fell off the wall, accidentally and despite his best intentions, the incompetence of all the king's horses and men left Humpty deformed and crippled, interrupting his dream of doing whatever things deformed, crippled, eggy people can't do; he dropped into revenge mode, as anyone likely would, and became the badguy as a matter of course, without stopping to whiteboard his plans for global domination.
Adventure and romance. Warriors because it adds something extra to the men. I do write adult content such as executions and sex, although I don't want that to be too pronounced. I dislike it when a story does not have a good or happy ending, although in the series you may have to wait sometime for it, per person.
character building. I think people fall in love with the characters not the book.