I've been considering what makes a successful story, from the POV of the writer. What makes a successful story from the POV of the reader? Let me hear from you!
For any successful story, you need (and these are in no particular order):
1. A plot-- a reason for telling the story. Plots may be character-driven: meaning that the needs of the characters dictate the plot. Plots may be "plot-driven": meaning that that the needs of the story dictate what the characters do.
2. Characters. Vivid, true-to-life, relate-able people the reader can care about, complete with goals, motivations and conflicts.
3. Conflict-- between the characters wants and desires and each other. I love to see my characters learn and grow as the story progresses. In this way, you can engage the readers' emotions, as well as those of the characters.
4. The Happily Ever After, or at least the HINT of the HEA. After all, this is why we love romances. It's a chance to see the fairytale come true. Who doesn't love that?