"If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?
"Or, um, is it just me?"
Whether fiction or nonfiction, the thing that drives my interest is "what happens next," most of the time. In nonfiction where I know the basics of the story, I read to learn all the details. In fiction, I read not only for the plot, but also for the beauty and depth and richness of the language. A good plot cannot, for me, make up for clumsy or poor writing. I'll toss a book aside before I'll plod through mediocrity. I must confess to feeling this way about nonfiction, too. If a writer wants me to invest my time and interest, he has to produce something worth my while in more ways than one.
As a teenager, I put up with bad writing in order to see how the plots came out, but I skimmed along enough to glean the essentials only. I was more tolerant, then.
But I'll tell you something that really frosts my flakes: absurd twists in the tales. I go crazy when I invest time in a book only to have a plot resolution come completely out of left field. I understand that writers want to have clever plot twists, unable to be guessed, but do me a favor! Please, folks, don't insult us readers by pulling the ol' "it was all a dream" ending or something equally ridiculous.