Open with a scene that instantly connects readers to the main character
Open with a scene that is active and shows a quick, sympathetic glimpse into the MC's regular life "before."
Breadcrumbs should be dropped in small bits at a time
The author drops in subtle hints that will come to fruition later. We don't know where the story will lead, but we're confident the author will tell us what we need to know when we need to know it.
Distinctive character voices
The book I'm reading has many points of view...five so far. But each one has a clear voice and their own, sometimes conflicting, objectives. The story's taking shape, and I'm confident the author will bring these characters together when the time is right.
Each character, scene, and bit of backstory should matter
I don't know exactly how and why all these details are important, but I know they are. This author does not waste the reader's time.
Be fair to both sides of a controversial subject
Picoult is fearless with subject matter, but is always fair to both sides. After each of her stories, I'm reminded to search deep within issues, understanding why both sides are passionate about their positions.
Each of Picoult's books not only entertains, but holds a special place in my heart. Great authors give their readers precious gifts: a unique reading experience, and something to strive for.
Do you have a favorite author whom you trust? Who is it, and what keeps you coming back for more?