I was asked this last week during a book club chat from a gentleman who writes a weekly column for a local paper and wants to tackle writing a novel.
"Is it the self-discipline required to write every day on the same piece of work for six months to a year? Or the rewriting once you've finished your first draft? Or the gutting and rewriting yet again after you receive editorial input from an agent or editor?"
"It's the story," I said. "Any writer can throw down snappy dialogue, a handful of poignant or humorous pages, a few chapters that are structured perfectly. Lots of writers are great at character development, and many churn out novels that are technically brilliant, but when all is said and done most readers want just one thing when they pick up a book -- to get sucked into a golden story that stands out from the crowd, the kind you can't put down. So for me, the story is always the one hardest thing."