Creativity is valued by those in the writing world — and rightfully so. The "muse" is all-important in guiding a story through to its best form. And no one wants to read a book that sounds like every other fill-in-the-blank book out there.
So agents, editors, and publishers are constantly looking for that fresh, original, next Big Thing. And authors are constantly trying to write what the publishers are looking for.
And I've noticed that in this quest, something seems to get lost along the way sometimes: authenticity. Authors are so eager to get that winning premise, that undeniable hook, that crazy new idea no one's yet written a book about...that they forget the reader's needs in all their excitement.
Because yes, readers want creative too, but: they also want rational. And they want different, but: they also want familiar. Your story has to MAKE SENSE — even if it's just an internal, within-the-confines-of-that-world sense that, for instance, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has. And it has to speak to something that the reader can identify with. Readers need to relate on some level.
|Even the Cheshire Cat displayed logic...of a sort.|
So whether your book involves genetic mutations or a new virus or brainwashing or what-have-you, base it on actual scientific research as much as possible. (Sorry, sci-fi/dystopian writers: I'm picking on you in particular because that seems to be a continual problem in your genre these days in YA.) Yes, you're a writer, but you can't make everything up or nothing you write will be believable. It's called "make-believe" for a reason: your job is to MAKE the reader BELIEVE. That's not going to happen if you don't base your story on reality in some way.
Otherwise, you'll get dissatisfied readers looking like this:
Because, let's face it: if you're writing a fantasy/sci-fi novel and your world-building's shaky, the reader needs to be engaged with the characters. And even if you have stellar world-building, if the reader's not feeling invested in the story, the odds that they will finish your book start to drop dramatically.
So, to sum up: authors, please ground your stories in worlds and ideas we can believe and characters we can become. And then, whether or not you have tapped into the next Big Thing, your story will feel real.
Which, to the reader, is what's truly important.