... and, slightly less desperately, a captivating character or two. A vivid turn of phrase, standard grammar and accurate spelling would come in handy as well: but I don’t think they’re as important.
You don’t agree? Shuffle through a pile of novel openings. Which is the one you don’t want to put down: the beautifully written description, or the tantalising hint of a story to follow? No-one ever got a book deal for their brilliant spelling.
OK, we want to communicate clearly and avoid alienating potential agents and publishers with what looks like illiteracy, but these things can be improved on. An editor who loves your book might even help you. They’re not going to fall in love with your grammar and work with you to develop a story.
So where do the good stories come from? I wish I could remember the author who replied to that question by saying she wished she knew, because if she did, she’d go there. If you know where they come from, I doubt if you’re going to tell us: you’ll want to keep it to yourself.
Which leaves me, Susan, desperately seeking a story ...