Both of my parents are aspiring fiction writers, so we quite frequently chat about writing on the phone. The other day my dad startled me by saying, "I've figured something out. When you're writing, all you have to do is get the reader interested, keep them interested all the way through, and leave 'em satisfied." It startled me, because it's SO true. This is a revelation I had a couple of years ago. Forget the "rules," forget style, forget plot, forget character. All of these things are just ways to reach the ultimate zen of "keep 'em itnerested, leave 'em satisfied." So easy, yet so hard. I was surprised, though, that my father had come to such an identical conclusion as I had. Is this something all writers figure out at some point? Or are my father and I exhibiting father-daughter brain-likeness?
I told my dad that I thought the "leave 'em satisfied" part was hardest. It requires knowing and understanding what the reader is after and giving it to them, often in spite of their own conscious wishes. Tricky stuff. How about everyone else? How do you keep 'em interested and leave 'em satisfied?