I just had a thought on this.
When I am either a) reading your story or b) listening to your read, I am looking for one thing.
Did you hold my interest?
I can overlook all kinds of problems with your story, as long as you hold my attention. Sure I might point out your “said” tags, or your “was’s” or your overusage of passive verbs, but if you can hold my interest (especially in a read session) you’ve got some nugget of good writing. So often, when I listen to someone read in our crit sessions, I get bored two paragraphs into it and my mind starts wondering. And then it’s damn tough to give a good critique because my initial response is: it was boring as hell. But you can’t say that. You need to be more politically sensitive. To look someone in the eye and tell them their story was boring, is a tough thing to do, but so many times I have felt this way while listening to reads at the workshop.
I guess I could say it wasn’t engaging enough. Or it didn’t hold my attention very well. I guess that would do it. So often the reads are about boring people do daily grind stuff, talking to other people doing the same thing. YAWN! Good heavens. Sure, every story has peaks and valleys, but cripes I shouldn’t start thinking about taking out my trash when I get home.
One rule: Don’t be boring. Ever.