As both a creative writing teacher and a commissioning editor I’ve become aware of three major mistakes that new writers make. These are the most common reasons for lower marks rejection and for rejection.
The biggest of all is that there is no story. Poor writing can be fixed – sometimes with a lot of patience and effort. But if there’s no story, there’s no story. If it’s not convincing it’s not really a story.
Literary fiction may be more subtle but it will still have a firm story arc.
The protagonist must have changed by the end of the story. And it must be a significant change. You don’t want your reader to think “Was that it?”
Sometimes an ending can be too melodramatic. Could that really happen? You need to check back that there really is cause and effect throughout your story.
Don’t cheat. Don’t pull in a deus ex machina – a god flown on to the stage on a dodgy piece of machinery. Their magic-wand waving will leave your reader dissatisfied. Heroes must solve their own problems. It’s wise even to get rid of any mentor before the climatic part of your story. Let your protagonist shine.