The Interwebs host an unlimited number of suggestions on how to write fiction, as well as countless books from people far smarter and skilled than I. For those trying to determine if a short story (ie less than 30,000 words) truly has merit, I recommend the following piece of advice…
Tell the story, as closely as you can to how it is written, to a few of people who like that genre.
The goals of this exercise are simple:
1. Write like you have an audience.
2. Look for immediate reactions.
For number 1, you should always write as if you have an audience. For number 2, use your actual, test-run audience for clues if your story is good. If they nod off, then the story is likely boring. If they ask questions at any part, you likely need to add in more detail beforehand. If they call out any faults, then you may have some issues to address.
The key to all of this is finding the right test-run audience. You should not use your parents or anyone afraid of hurting your feelings. You should also seek out someone who enjoys the genre you are writing in. Ignore these and you will likey suffer from people being too nice or guiding you in the wrong direction.
There you have it, one author’s experience in filtering critter comments. I hope this information helps you in some way. If you have any thoughts or ideas to share, please leave a comment or like this post.