The more you experience and learn, the better writer you will be. Personally, I watch a lot of movies which tell a story in two hours based on a 120 page script. So it makes sense I should be able to entertain, inspire, or excite a reader in 250 pages of a novel.
An editorial assistant at a large publishing house gave the following advice: "We are looking for books that are eye-catching, wow the reader, and are innovative. In order for your book to stand out of the crowd, you must pull in the reader from the first page, move at a good pace, and be original. It needs to be exceptional with characters that readers care about."
When I walk into a DVD store, I look for a movie with a back cover blurb that makes me go 'wow' or one with a fantastic trailer. Similarly, one's book must be marketable and readers must be able to identify with your characters. A protagonist may drive the plot, rather than just react to other characters and events around them. I hear of other writers who say their characters create their own story, and they are only the vessel to deliver the scenes.Sandra is the author of My Schizophrenic Life: The Road to Recovery from Mental Illness and her website is http://symackay.blogspot.com She is also the editor of Majestic, an online newsletter for Lit.org at http://majestic.lit.org/wordpress