Speaking of looking for an agent in 2010, literary agent Janet Reid breaks down a number of rejections on her blog (all after requesting full manuscripts). Scary.
As an English teacher, I'm well versed in the haze of writing well. Some of Ms. Reid's stats are very helpful (structural problems, starts too slow, characters are caricatures...). Then we have "Just plain not good enough".
What, exactly, does "good enough" mean?
Good is uber-subjective right? We all know when we've read something good. Of course, I often read the Year's Best collections (at least skim each story, looking for the real gems), and think "Really? That got in here?"
So how do you know good? Do you have the internal compass to "know"? Can someone be taught how to recognize "good"?
I score high school students' papers with a rubric called 6-traits. Each trait--voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, ideas and content, and organization--receives a number rating (usually from 1-5). We can pretend that it's math, only it isn't math. It's still subjective.
Sure, I can quantify further. Five grammatical errors = 3 in conventions, etc. But, in the end, subjectivity creeps in. (How do you quantify voice?)
So, I really want to know: what defines good, at least in your opinion?