I came upon an interesting blog post today which followed on from last year’s Willesden Herald short story competition. For those of you not familiar with the story (she said pompously, as if she had known about it all along), the Willesden Herald runs a short story competition each year but in 2007 no prizes were awarded as the judges felt that the quality of the entries was too poor. There followed a big hoo-ha in the literary press, fuelled by much outrage and bile, in which this decision was discussed at length and few conclusions were drawn, and the judges’ opinions were not swayed.
The most useful thing to come out of all of this fuss was, from my point of view at least, this rather wonderful blog post which analyses exactly what was wrong with the submissions. It’s written by Stephen Moran, one of the judges of the competition, and his views mirror my own experiences when I was editing, and the many editors’ comments I’ve read over the years. Overall, the writing just wasn’t good enough. You can’t argue with that. Although, of course, if you read the comments and the news coverage, people did: which didn’t improve the quality of the writing one jot.