Why should I read your novel? Why should anyone? Only you know the answer to that, and you tell us by the story you choose to tell, the characters you choose to create, the themes you choose to develop.
We read not so much to escape our lives but to add meaning, understanding, and depth to our days. If we find nothing but the same old stories told in the same old ways, we come away from the experience intellectually and emotionally unsatisfied. If the characters don't change in a fundamental way, if they don't struggle with an idea bigger than they are, we don't change either.
Too often when I finish reading a book, I wonder why I bothered. The story is stale, the characters undeveloped, the stakes trivial, the theme banal. This is particularly true of books written by prolific authors. After three or four books, they plagiarize themselves, using the same basic characters and plots they did before. Perhaps their first book was fresh, with something new to say, but that something becomes stale with each succeeding book.
This is especially true in today's traditional book market where an author is expected to churn out a clone every year. And aspiring authors are being steered into that same pattern. They're told to write in the genre they read because obviously they like the genre and because they are familiar with its conventions. But perhaps the opposite is true. Perhaps they should write in a genre they don't read so they don't keep perpetuating clichés. They might unwittingly rehash old stories in the unfamiliar genre, but there is greater chance of saying something new.
My current work-in-progress is developing into a whimsically ironic allegorical apocalyptic novel, which is bizarre because I don't read that particular type of book; I don't even know if that is a type. What isn't bizarre, though, is all I am learning by writing in an unfamiliar genre. I may very well be writing a clichéd story -- I have no way of knowing -- but at least I am coming to it from my own unique viewpoint, not the distilled vision of all the authors who have gone before. And I am learning more about writing from this novel than any of my previous ones because I have to pull what comes next out of the creative ether, not from my memory of the stories I have previously read.
Without a mystery at its core as in my previous works, I have to search for other ways of adding tension to the story such as the inner conflicts that beset my hero. How much freedom is he willing to give up for security? How much security is he willing to give up for freedom? How much of freedom and security are illusory? And I am becoming cognizant of theme, symbols, and other mythic elements as ways of unifying disparate parts of the story.
So why should you read my book when it's completed? Because, if I do it right, it will be an entertaining way for you come to terms with one of the major dilemmas facing us today, and it will take you into the life of a character whose conflicts and choices will help make sense of your own life.
At least, that's the way story is supposed to work.