yes, I write with the reader in mind- you have to. Some writers do this in a very obvious way- everyday characters, everyday settings, then they throw in the rape scene, for instance, or titilate (sp?) with a rauncy sex scene, adding something dramatic to ...hook... the reader, force the reader to feel an emotion and engage with the text and the characters, but it's an obvious trick.

Much better, I feel, is to aim for subtlety. You don't need to describe the battle where Johnny lost his legs in fine detail, but you can allude to it; via flashbacks, for instance, or an aside from Johnny about a dog's docked tail.

For me, a good part of the novel is about the characters, their motivations, their histories, and all my favourite books, literary or commercial, have had good, solid characters. There has to be some connection, for the reader, between themselves and the characters, otherwise, well... a novel is pretty poo...