I was reading some stories on blogs today... stuff that read "First Two Chapters! Enjoy!" and it kind of made me realize where the bridge between good and bad writing is. I think I made a breakthrough in dregging through the literary offal found on the internets.
1. People who write stories about someone writing a story. It's dumb and convoluded. The best story like this was The Secret Window and that was written by Stephen King... the guy can pull off any over-used, horribly cliche plot he wants. The majority of us, however, cannot. So, if you ever feel like your character has to write... think about it again. Is there any other way you can give your character some ambiance of creativity? Think about it. Stay the fuck away from cliches - especially this one.
2. Dumbass page-long narratives of two people staring at eachother in silence. This seems pretty self-explanatory. If your male protagonist looks out into the park and sees a beautiful girl, don't give me a page about her fucking hair. It's dumb and boring and not realistic. As a guy, I can say, without equivocation, that when I see a woman I don't break out into sonnet. Neither should your dude. If your just trying to boost your word count, then you're a poser... if you're trying to show off flowery language, you're a loser... if you're trying to show how emotionally touched your guy is, you're lying.
3. Having one long paragraph that should be broken up into two. Reading devolves into scanning when confronted with a wall of text. When you have a paragraph that doesn't seem to end, find a good place to break it up. There's always a spot out there. Find it. Rule of thumb: if you have more than one central subject going on in a paragraph, you're doing it wrong.
4. Don't be a cocky prick. People notice your douchebaggery. A simple rule of thumb exists here. If you think very highly of yourself, it will come through in your writing and it will no longer be sincere. Self-flaggelation and a good sense of humor are paramount in writing, and without the ability to laugh at yourself, your writing looks contrived and brings up images of Patrick Bateman flexing in the mirror while banging a chick in American Psycho. If you want to write, get over yourself. Write for the love of the story, not for the love of yourself. Prick.
5. Don't make wild claims about how other people write when you're not even published yet. Yeah, and hypocrites. I hate hypocrites.
That's it. Enjoy your crushed egos.