I recently asked readers in a Kindle forum what they would like to see more of in novels. Here are their answers, verbatim.
- Mysteries in which you are given sufficient clues to figure it out before the detective does.
- Humor applied like seasoning throughout the book, in narration and dialog, and of a dry or tongue-in-cheek nature.
- Romances that develop unpredictably, with all the illogical surprises real ones have.
- Rivals who develop respect for each other and possibly even become friends.
- Themes of brotherhood.
- A devil-may-care protagonist who doesn't get depressed (like I do) when life dumps tons of manure on them.
- An author who knows what s/he is writing about, and can effortlessly, comfortably “speak the language” of people from the subculture they depict.
- Fantasy authors who keep made-up, foreign-sounding words to a minimum.
- Breaking of current conventions (but not just for the sake of breaking conventions).
- Climaxes that live up to the hype/buildup.
- Science fiction that focuses more on character than technology. (Technology is a prop, or backdrop.)
- Characters who make mistakes, but not as many as I do. ;-)
- Oh yeah: clean prose without consistent amateurish blemishes.
- New plot developments that force me to radically reinterpret everything I read before!