I don’t often re-post things in their entirety but want to post this – as I think it says such a lot about writing and it says it so elegantly. It comes from Tom O’Neill’s blog on his book Old Friends – take a look
An author has to keep an eye on the reader as the storyteller always did, just with the disadvantage of being a step removed.
You have to keep an eye on them because you have a job to do for them. You have to amuse them and keep them amused. That’s all.
Luckily, there are various ways in which you can do this. Like every storyteller understood, you must always have characters more interesting than anyone present and you must have disturbing things happening to them. You should have excitement, treachery, loyalty, loss and if at all possible, revenge. You have to have a laugh with the characters and another one at them. You should have layers of hidden story for the more alert reader to dig up.
There must always be love. Nothing moves without it. Every good story is embedded in it, even where it is never spoken, even where it is contorted.
And of course you should disrupt the reader’s afternoon.
I hope Old Friends amused you.