I recently took part in an event that brought it home to me how subjective writing is. I was a finalist in a local book festival for a piece of 250 word flash fiction. 12 of us read out our pieces, and we voted for a winner.
All these pieces were 'good', however you want to judge good. They were tight, they followed their character's POV or their theme through, they contained deft imagery and interesting description.
You know what? I liked some of them more than others. There were pieces on flying machines, sister-in-laws coveting their brother-in-law, anecdotes about grandchildren and stories of an understudy going on stage. Yes, interesting writing and a 'good writer' will hold my interest on any topic, but I have little interest in flying machines to begin with. However well written his piece was, however much it held my interest, I was naturally more predisposed to like the piece about the understudy because it was more 'my thing.'
I realised this is exactly what agents face. They have tons of submissions and some of them, yes, can be dismissed because they see the writing as weak or the character unbelievable or the plot makes no sense.
But some of it? Just isn't their thing, and however interesting you make it, they aren't going to take it. They only have a couple of votes.
I often see people say that writing is subjective, and I agree that there is no magic level of writing that will guarantee you an agent or publication of any kind. Luck comes into it.
But having been to this event, I do realise how a well written piece about flying machines held my interest more than a badly written piece would have. Even if it didn't get my vote. I do know how useful writing advice on websites has been, and from critique partners, in improving my own writing. I do feel like my writing gets 'better' whatever better is, and however subjective that is.
What do you think? Do you welcome writing advice? If it is all subjective how do you know what's 'good' and 'bad'?
And can I make my thrillers funny? Anyone know a good joke?