Zoetrope has an online writing workshop. It's a fine magazine, and I'd heard intriguing things. The price of admission, though, is reviewing five short stories. This seemed a lot of trouble, but lately I've been wondering: what is the "average" short story like?
It's not a pretty picture, at least not a Zoetrope. None of the writers seemed capable of finding a character or a voice. Two or three wandered into weird racial theories. Two ended in spectacularly unjustified murders. Several of the writers wanted to describe a romance, but seemed not quite sure what happens after boy meets girl.
I'd assume that most of these stories were written by kids, but how many kids have the patience to review five short stories in order to get permission to submit their own? When the only reward is the promise that you might get reviews from other kids. If these are kids, they must be the stars of their class, the kids who do extra work, not the ones just trying to get by. It makes you wonder how people who teach Creative Writing manage.
People complain about the quality of writing in weblogs, but the average weblog is much better than any of the Zoetrope stories I was assigned.