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What makes fiction good?

Can we grade works of fiction? Novelist and short story prize judge Benjamin Markovits thinks we can—and tells us how

Is it possible to find specific attributes that make a work of fiction "good"? Photo: Prospect composite

For six months in 2018, I was a judge on the BBC National Short Story Prize. This was not a full-time job. In May they sent me 60 anonymous short stories, and I was supposed to whittle them down to 10 or 12—in the privacy of my own home. Then, at the end of June, my fellow judges and I met in a conference room of the London Library and spent a…

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