We all know that it’s a good idea to read good stories and figure out what makes them so compelling. Ninety percent of the time, that’s what you want to be reading – stuff that’s so unbelievably awesome that you hope the writer’s skills will actually rub off on you somehow. But, from time to time, it’s also beneficial to read a really bad story and analyze exactly what makes it so darn unreadable. If you can determine what caused you to give up on a novel after only ten pages, you can hopefully avoid making those same errors in your own writing. It’s a great way to sharpen you editing claws, stretch your critiquing muscles, and improve your own writing, all at the same time.
Sounds good, right? Now, all you need is a story to practice on. A really bad, really horrible story. And I happen to have the perfect one. A few years ago, I read what is quite possibly the worst story ever written. It’s so completely awful, that it almost comes around full circle and becomes good. Seriously, you will cringe when you read it. You will roll your eyes and think, How in the heck did this thing ever get published? In the end, you won’t know whether to laugh or weep at the sheer wretchedness of it.
You probably think I’m being mean, talking like this. You probably think I’m ignoring the whole “support other writers” spiel I gave in my constructive criticism post and being a total hypocrite. I’m not. The reason: This story was written badly on purpose. The author, who is actually very talented, takes basically every single mistake that would make an editor twitch, and crams them all together into one hilariously groan-worthy short story. It’s absolute brilliance, and a super-handy guide for what you should NEVER EVER do when you’re writing a short story. Or a long story. Or a novel. Or anything.
So, go check it out, and try to find every example of awfulness you possibly can in this piece that can only be described as bad writing at its very best. 🙂
Enjoy, and keep writing!