Few writers capture all the elements that make an outstanding story in their first draft. It is comparable to the sketch a master painter uses. It capture the essence, but still requires refinement. My first draft usually is primarily action and dialog. I’ve often thought I’d make a great screenwriter, leaving the other details up to the director and producer. However, that isn’t going to work in a novel.
Granted, some genres are heavier on description than others. A Gothic Romance, for example, is likely to go on and one describing the setting, which would be beyond annoying for a suspense thriller. However, some description is required to fully engage your reader.
I use the acronym IDEAS as a reminder for what to look for when I’m editing. This stands for Imagery; Dialog; Emotion; Action; Suspense. All of these are important story elements. The balance may vary with genre, but each is essential. After you finish your first draft, these are some things to watch for and make sure you haven’t left anything out. You may have envisioned the story in your head while you were writing, but did you give the reader enough information to do the same?