A great story begins with an idea. With foresight, an author who is going to be successful might glimpse the satisfaction that communicating that idea might bring. This is sometimes felt almost unconsciously by the writer.
Then there needs to be a character or set of characters to act as a bridge to readers. In fiction, the idea isn’t going to just appear in a reader’s head out of thin air unless there’s someone in the story with whom the reader has a link.
There needs to be a desire implanted in readers to ensure that the idea actually begins to turn into reality. This is important. The idea will stall right there unless the desire for it outweighs any kind of obstacle. A successful story has to have attractive power, in other words.
Enough desire results in a commitment. Desire might be strong, but it has to be made strong enough for a reader to invest in it from the treasury of feelings they possess.
Then the story has to actually be written - in whatever sequence is right for it. Opening scene, motion towards a goal, twists and turns and so forth, everything that is involved in furnishing a successful story. There are basics which can’t be violated if you want something that remotely resembles a story that works.
The first reader tests the quality of the thing. If it’s not right, some adjustments will need to be made. How do you judge the quality? You match it against the earlier desire. If it is found wanting, page by page, the story has to be fine-tuned in some way to match that desire.
Then the story is finally consumed. Readers need to get the sense of fulfilment that they foresaw, perhaps, when you first gave them an inkling of the idea.
It should be clear that if any one of these steps is not there, the whole product is not fully achieved.
Obviously, without the idea nothing even starts to happen.
If there’s no character to convey it, the idea won’t get very far.
In the absence of any desire, even if someone has the idea and there is a character in place to bridge it to the reader, there won’t be sufficient motivation for the reader to move through the story. To be truly successful, a story has to generate enough desire to produce emotional commitment.
Without an opening, a middle, various scenes and so on, there would be no plot. If the work gets as far as this, and the sequence of making it goes wrong, there goes the tale.
If the quality of the writing, page by page, isn’t good enough, it might as well not have been written.
And then, after all that, if the story sits untouched and unread, the whole thing will have been a waste of time.
Each step, then, is essential.