Common short story faults, according to…


Did you know that there are 27 common faults in short stories, according to the Willesden Herald? The Willesden Herald is known for not awarding a short story prize to any of the entries because Zadie Smith found none of them fit for reward.

While that very move to not award a winner was very controversial, it’s blossomed interesting debates and commentary. Should a contest award a winner, no matter what? Were they right to withhold the award? Good stuff to digest on both sides of the debate (most notable: Edward Champion’s chastisement of Zadie Smith‘s decision).

Now the list. (And yes, I’m late on bringing this up here–but hey, I’m behind on my blogging).

With twenty-seven items, it’s a fairly comprehensive list. I have mixed feelings about the list. Maybe you do, too.


Filed under Writing

4 responses to “Common short story faults, according to…

  1. #2 “Overcrowded with characters” resonated with me, because I’ve read so many stories where I’m inundated with a multitude of characters called Mike, Bill, Bob, Cathy, Anne, Joe etc, so that I can’t tell one from the other, probably because Anglo-Saxon names all sound alike to me (and I’m an Anglo-Saxon).

    If there are to be many characters, the writer should at least give them distinctive names, like Oswald, Giscard, Brunhilde, Algernon, Buckminster, etc.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I am guilty on so many counts. I confess and vow to mend my ways. G

  3. i don’t have mixed feelings about the willesden herald list — i hate it in its entirety. 😉

    it smacks of elitism, and for all the different categories, all the list really says is that the major fault in badly written short stories is that they are badly written.

    sorry to be so sour. the zadie smith/no contest winner thing really left a bad taste in my mouth.

  4. Caroline–glad the link to the list was good for you!

    suburbanlife: you’re welcome–but keep on writing!

    bookfraud: I agree with you…in the end, a badly written short story is a badly written short story. It is interesting to see the “badly written short story” broken down into 27 components, though–but I probably won’t keep that list in my head as I write. It would be destructive for the creative process.

    I think they ought to have named a winner, too.

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