What makes a story interesting to read?

I respectfully disagree. Going back to the subject of the thread, I think that a story will be interesting for the reader if the characters who experience these events, are happy or sad with them, and ultimately succeed or fail, have a treatment or approach that is somehow new to the reader. But I think the story always comes first, everything else comes later. At least I always ask myself first: what is happening, what is the fact?, and then, to whom?
Anyway, it's just different points of view yours and mine.
For example, Faulkner said, about his novel As I Lay Dying, that he began by imagining a group of people whom he then put in a dangerous situation. I mean, he started with the characters and then wondered what to do with them.
On the other side of the coin, Kurt Vonnegut first had the idea for the novel Slaughterhouse Five and then started thinking about the characters.
That is, both points of view are valid.
I prefer to work with the story first because it makes it easier for me to create the beginning, development and outcome. I like to think of the characters as fossils that I only get to know as I unearth them. So, since I already know the ending, I wonder what those characters have to do to get there. But, according to the story, I decide to show only the features that are most useful to develop a certain plot. However, that is my style of work. You have your own view of the matter and that's fine too. :ninja:
You're talking about the inspiration for the story, not how the story is crafted. Your examples, if anything, are closer to what I'm talking about - you conceive of story and character together - then write.
I cheerfully confess that I don't have a method. Instead, I have approached every story I've written differently. They've originated in different ways (inspiration) and developed in different ways. Each time I've earnestly hoped that I had "learned lessons" from the previous project and tried to apply them. Can't say it's done me much good, but neither has it done much harm.

That said, I'm willing to bet that an outside observer would say Oh, but you do this pretty consistently. And you always have done that.

Sure. I guess. Doesn't feel that way while I'm hip-deep in story. When I'm famous, I'll let future generations of students note the patterns. <g>

I do think, though (well, occasionally I think), that it's good for folks to say how they work, even if it's only how they're currently working, or even how they intend to work. If nothing else it lets other writers see they aren't the only ones struggling or succeeding with this or that, and so breathe a sigh of relief. We can all use one of those from time to time.
Yes, all this you say is very good, but I would like to emphasize, especially for newcomers, all welcome by the way, that the stories that are dedicated to writing must be understood as a project whose duration is directly related to the objectives. Therefore, in order not to discourage new writers, I would like to tell them that if they do not set clear goals when writing, it is difficult for them to get anywhere. This has already happened countless times, that's why I say it.

Last year, for example, a colleague said that he planned to make a space saga aimed at the young adult segment or YA without really knowing what the characteristics of that audience are. He also asked it in two forums and in both forums they told him more or less the same thing and it was useful, in the sense that we all (I imagine) drew valuable conclusions. But there is also a research task to be done by the author himself, examining what the experts think about it.

This research, regarding the topic of the thread, in my opinion should also cover that front: not only think about what kind of story the reader might be interested in, but also in what specific age segment that particular author might do better, whether by self-interest and capabilities.
But the fundamental requirements to successfully complete projects, in my opinion, are basically two: patience and a certain "professional" honesty, let's say. The latter in turn has to do with three things:

The first is not to skip the editing process that a text requires because it saves us time and the writer himself avoids possible disappointment.

The second, and that even comes before the writing itself, is that I would advise new members to start with simple objectives, for which the 75 and 300 word exercises in this same forum, although many do not find them attractive mainly because of the extension, they are ideal and also the criticism is usually constructive and, what is better, free. But for newcomers they also serve as a valuable guide to know more or less what stage they are at.

The third delves deeper into this of setting simple goals, especially considering that sagas are in fashion. My recommendation is that you think carefully about whether you are really prepared to tackle a project of such magnitude. Because it usually takes years. Well, if they aspire to be read by someone, about what story can be interesting for the reader. :ninja:
You may also consider two points:

1. What is the purpose of the story, and did it fulfill its purpose?

2. Is that purpose relevant?

The first will determine whether or not the story will get the attention of the reader, and the second if it will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Many stories fulfill the first, and very few the second.
For me, characters that I care about and want to spend time with, doing something cool and adventurous and exciting. So if you can get me with a voice, give me an inciting incident that piques my curiosity, and set it all in a well-realised world, I'm yours.

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