I've been thinking as long as I can remember and reading for nearly as long.
And since I took an interest in writing fiction, I've been thinking about that, too.
While I can read books about writing stories and novels, I can also read stories and novels and think about how they were written, what works for me and what doesn't. And then apply these to my own writing.
I recently read and enjoyed two novellas by Samantha Cole, "Leather and Lace" and "His Angel", the first two in her "Trident Security" series (available on Amazon and probably other e-book retailers too). I suspect each book in the series will feature a different member of a cast of characters, an idea I rather liked. They're both fast-moving erotic BDSM romances, which I'm not a big fan of personally, but I'd offered to read and review them.
What struck me was that there seemed to be a chunk of "tell", a chunk of narrative describing the backstory of some of the characters. One of the things writers are encouraged to do today is "show" rather than "tell", using the story to reveal background details rather than spell them out. But in these stories, I felt it was a useful device to keep up the pace and limit the overall word count. It worked well enough to keep me engaged. But I felt it was something I didn't want to use in my own work.
I'm currently listening again to some favourite audiobooks. As I have a 50-minute drive to and from work, audiobooks are a great way to enjoy some stories. I'm currently on the second of three related stories by Molly Harper, "How To Flirt With A Naked Werewolf," "How To Seduce A Naked Werewolf" and "How To Run With A Naked Werewolf". Set in contemporary Alaska, these are fairly light-hearted romantic fantasies revolving around a pack of werewolves. Listening to them again, I was struck by how well I was carried away by the stories and characters, even to the extent that I didn't mind several "continuity errors" and minor inconsistencies which had survived the editing and reviewing process.
While I can't be sure my storylines and characters are as engaging as I hope, at least I can do my best to avoid the same sort of minor errors which might irritate readers.
Listening to lots of audiobooks has illustrated the importance of choosing the right narrator and their performance. For me, Amanda Ronconi does a fantastic job with Molly Harper's stories. Most of the audiobooks I've listened to had great performances. I've got a version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" with two narrators doing a great job with the different characters. But a few books irritated me in one way or another, which spoiled my enjoyment of the story. The worst I've come across was having a female narrator for a story with a first-person male character... I can suspend disbelief, but only so far.