A writer's first audience is themselves. The ideas that they envision, the characters that they create, and the plot lines they weave, are written out by the writer, for the writer. These story elements need not be well articulated at first. The writer knows what they mean. Once a new writer starts to shed their newness, they begin to write for their second audience: the reader.
The reader doesn't have the details of the story yet. They know only what the writer tells them. But that doesn't mean they will draw the same out of the writer's words, that the writer meant to put into them. The reader brings with them their own literary palette along with their own understandings, prejudices, and stereotypes. If I can't stand the smell of fried eggs, comparing a horrid smell to an omelet isn't going have the intended effect on a reader that loves eggs. New writers often have similar issues in their writing--something I call the vague detail problem.
You've seen it before. Let's be honest. You've done it at least once yourself. We all have. The grand daddy of all vague details, the dreaded word "strange." You're writing a Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, or Horror story. You want the reader to take notice of a certain character, fireplace, magic stone, alien pod, or puddle on the floor. What do you do? In a moment of weakness, you use the dreaded vague adjective.
You know what you mean. Right? But the reader doesn't. The word "strange," doesn't mean anything on it's own. Aside from strange, words can also be vague when combined with ideas that they don't apply to. "Hollow," is a good example of a meaningful word that becomes vague when used unconventionally. I'll make up some sentences to show what I mean.
The strange man spoke in a hollow tone.
This sentence sounds really good. You'll find sentences and descriptions like this in the work of new(and some published) authors, but aside from sounding good, it means pretty much nothing. It tells me nothing about the man. I have no idea what a hollow tone sounds like. I know what a hollow log sounds like when you knock on it, but what does that have to do with a speaking voice? Here's another one.
The stench of the alien ship assaulted his nostrils as the mysterious, dark figure gave a fateful nod.
This sentence looks pretty good. If you skim over it, you might not see what the problem is with it, but there's a lot wrong with it. For one, we get that the alien ship smells bad, but otherwise, we have no idea what it smells like. We, as readers, can't identify with the word "stench" alone without more detail. Does it smell like fried eggs? Because that's definitely a very unpleasant smell to me.
What does the figure look like? We have no idea. The word "mysterious" is just like "strange." It does nothing for the reader. If you don't believe me, explain to me the difference between a regular cookie and a mysterious one. Ask 20 people that question, and you might get 20 different answers. Letting the reader fill in their own major details might sound really great in practice, but it will get you wildly unpredictable results with a high possibility of the reader feeling totally lost after a while when their interpretation doesn't fit anymore and they have to try and relearn what's going on. Don't do that to your reader.
The word "dark" doesn't really do anything for us either. Is the figure dark because it's in the shadows? Is the figure's clothing dark in color? Is the figure dark because its face is obscured in some way? We have no idea. I ended with "a fateful nod" to make another point. You just about never see the word "fateful" in good writing. It's another word that tells nothing to the reader. Can you tell the difference between a fateful nod and a regular one? The word "fateful" is supposed to tell the reader that there's a significance to what it describes, but a significance that won't be obvious until later. Unfortunately, how the reader will interpret "this might be important later," will vary wildly. As a writer, you never want to give up that much control over your connection with how the reader will experience your story as you craft it to be.