How to write a story I’ll enjoy

The stories I like have some common elements. So here are four almost universal suggestions for writing what I’ll enjoy:

  1. Grab me in the first page. If you don’t grab me in the first page, paragraph even, I’m gone. If that means you have to start in the middle of your story instead of the beginning, go for it. Then cut the beginning.
  2. Transport me to a different world, somewhere I’ve never known before. Even if it’s a story I’ve heard before, if you don’t take me to a different place and tell it in a different way, I’ll never buy in.
  3. Give me a decision, like a moral dilemma, to consider. Get me invested in the story by throwing something at me that makes me ask what I’d do in a given situation.
  4. Twist me at the end, but don’t let me down. If I can predict the ending before the ending, I’m probably not going to suggest your story. Even if I like the rest of it, you have to have a strong ending. And that means strong, not waking up from a dream and calling that a twist.