Every reader knows that irritating moment when you close a book without finishing it, feeling unsatisfied. Maybe it was the story, or the plot, or the characters. Something was off, or just wasn't quite good enough.
As writers, we want to make sure that never happens with our stories. If your story isn't real, it won't be interesting. It doesn't have to be realistic, but if the characters seem manufactured, the plot is totally implausible, or the descriptions are dull, no one will want to read it. Make the details matter. Here are fixes to three common problems:
If your setting is bland:
Add description to make it feel like you could live there. It can be the drizzle of pounding rain, the jolt of adrenaline when you start a race, or the rush of cars under the hazy glow of streetlights. Make your setting worthy of its characters and stories.
If your characters are bland:
Make them quirky. Give them tics and different personalities. Mix stereotypes and cliches so they're unique. Give them attributes, without having them defined by them. Make their setbacks as natural as their successes. If your characters don't stand out, the plot isn't going to. Figure out what makes them different from everyone else and expand on that.
If your plot is bland: Put your characters in interesting situations. Make them react and adapt. Make sure there's always something happening, whether it's internal conflict or external conflict, or a combination. It doesn't have to be big, but it will play a part in your main character's life and surroundings.