I'm a judge for a writing contest, being held by an organization that shall remain nameless.
Being a judge involves reading over a thousand short stories written by newbies.
It's a painful job.
Ninety-nine percent of the entries share similar problems. These problems occur with such frequency that I've decided to write a story to illustrate them.
In the following short, try to spot all of the things that would make it a losing entry:
THE CHURCH ON BY JOE KONRATH
It was a very sunny day in the spring of 2004 in fact it was so sunny, that even the sun had to wear sunglasses! It was on this very sunny day that I first met my wife. Her name was Rhoda, and she loved life. She lived in a house at 8786 Cranberry road, with her mother and three dogs named Sharpie, Bull, and Doxie, who are a Sharpei, a bulldog, and a doxhund. Boy were those dogs trouble! Yes they were! Trouble spelled T-R-O-U-B-L-E with a capitol T! But Rhonda loved those dogs, so much, that I never would have guessed, how it all ended up. And, boy, did it end up, bad! On a very cloudy day in the fall of 2006, Rhonda took the dogs out for a walk, but you can actually say that they walked her. Those were some frisky dogs! As they all walk to my house, Sharpie sniffe d out a skunk and got squirted, which smelled even worse. Sharpe thought it was a cat, but he sure was surprised! When Rhonda brought the dogs into my house, boy was I ever really very upset.
"You need to get that foul smelling pooch into a bath of half tomato juice and half vinegar and half baking soda!" I loudly exclaimed with a huge frown creasing my unhappy face.
"But Sharpie is allergic to tomato juice!" proclaimed RHonda as she stamps her foot and pouts with her hands on her hips cocked out like a diva.
""I not asking the pooch to drink any tomato juice, just take a bath in it!" I loudly laughed hard.
The next week I proposed to Rohnda, and we were married at St. Vincent's Church on 472 Smith street on a very sunny spring day and Sharpie was supposed to be the ring barer with a little pillow tied to his back but guess what? He got into another skunk right before the ceremony! That screwy pooch just didn't learn better! So Sharpie comes runnin down the isle and everyone in the church is holding their noses. They were literaly in the pews saying PEE YOO. Now I wasn't going to say my vows wearing a light tan medium wooden closepin on my nose, so I told my best man Zeke to take Sharpie out of that church but make sure to bring back the rings so we coudl still salvage this disaster. Four minutes later, Zeke locked out Sharpie outside the church but guess what?!? Now he smelled like skunk! I should have known to bring some tomato juice to my wedding day!
I told him ""Sorry Zeke my best man but you have to wait out outside the chucrh with Sharpie" I said funnily because I am holding my nose! Everyone laughed especially my bride as Zeke stomped dejectedly out of
the church like an unclean leper. He felt so terrible he wanted to go jump in a lake, and he thought maybe he should because that will get some of the skunk stink off but he couldn't because the tuxedo was rented!. The next year Rhonda died of pnemonia and cancer, but I still have the dogs to remind me of her, and I love little Shapie but I always keep some tomato juice around just in case!
And yes, unfortunately, some of the stories are this bad. But mostly this is an amalgamation of the many things wrong with newbie short stories.
Some of the errors are obvious. Some are a bit harder to spot. But there are close to a hundred faults, any one of which would make me stop reading and file the story in the trash.
How many can you spot? I'm not looking for a blow-by-blow list, but rather general rules, such as spelling problems and changing tense.