I recently found myself trying to formalize just what it is about writing that I find so irresistible. Turns out there's a lot. My catchphrase that I walked away with was "a joyful dance of clever manipulation in the pursuit of exploration and adventure."
Now, as to what I mean by that. First and foremost, I am going on a journey when I write fiction. Exploring and creating merge into a strange and globular entity when you're steering the story. This seems to be an inherent component of crafting fiction: in that all fiction is about a reality that is different from ours in one or more specific ways - those differences form the foundational truths of any fiction story, and each writer's reasoning expands it from those; so that you end up with a logical structure based on those initial fabrications, and selectively combined with elements of non-fictional reality.
Another element is that of dialogue - our literary simulation of the most social of social interactions. There is something that just sends me cackling about writing a particularly convoluted, and yet technically coherent bit of dialogue. The character "Tarly" in my story "The Inn of Adventurers" represents this well, when he debates the meaning of a "warning" with another character. Dialogue also serves as a contrast to the narrative - providing opportunity to highlight or obfuscate content and tone. If some loud noise is stated in the narrative, but only one character acknowledges it while another tells the first that there was no noise - and all of this is shown to the reader in dialogue (except the initial statement of noise within the narrative), then a situation is created where you have a primed event. It's an event the reader knows about, but they don't know if it's actually happened (or will happen) - having active evidence both for and against it. This can be used in much subtler and more powerful manners than I've shown, but I felt the need to include at least a basic example.
Perhaps my favorite thing to do in writing is to explore the plausible absurd, or sustainable outrageousness. Finding ways to use oppositional concepts to strengthen each other by intentional focus and transition. One of the most prevalent patterns that I've uncovered for this is by embedding the absurd within the mundane - from there you trivialize the narrative of the absurd, while sensationalizing the narrative of the mundane. This can create a scenario where you have a talking mongoose for a waiter, but what the reader wants to know more about is that "shadowy doorway lurking along the back wall - obscured by hanging beads, and plastered with brightly colored stickers." There is clearly a lot more that goes into using this trick, but that seems a reasonably adequate and quick explanation.
All of these things (and much more that I'll have to post about later) are what contribute to writing being (for me) a joyful dance of clever manipulation in the pursuit of exploration and adventure.