As I’ve grown as a writer, one unexpected change in the way I view and critique other stories is that I no longer see stories on a scale of good to bad, but from finished to unfinished.
There are rarely ‘bad’ stories, only stories that needed more work to reach their true potential: stories that needed faster pacing, stronger characters, fewer plot holes, a more developed settings, better narration, more editing.
There’s a good story in (almost*) every concept.
What might this mean to us as analytic readers?
If we look at stories on a scale from unfinished to finished instead of bad to good, the natural response then becomes not “what made this story bad” but “what would I edit to make this story better” which both focuses on positive, growth-oriented thoughts and forces us to dig deeper in our understanding of stories.
Even more important: What should this mean to us as writers?
It means that we shouldn’t doubt our own concepts and stories so much.
Even on the days when your story feels like it’s unoriginal and undesirable and not progressing, remember that there aren’t any bad stories, just ones that aren’t done being edited yet. Keep working, keeping writing, keep editing. You have a brilliant story in there somewhere, you’re just pulling it out of the woodwork still.
* Concepts that don’t make good stories are concepts which would actively harms real life oppressed groups even when done well. Viewing stories as finished or unfinished should not include ignoring or dismissing aspects that are harmful to readers.