I just sent an e-mail to two of our writers (out of like 20 or 30), telling them I appreciate their clear refreshing prose, and asking if they will write for us again. I spend so much time slogging through mediocre text that I needed to give props to the model citizens.
I have a test for whether I think a writer has talent- thought organization. Even if he or she has well-written individual phrases, if the overall narrative is all over the place, thoughts disorganized and confused, it tells me they don’t know what they are trying to say.
More important than anything else, the writer needs to know, and be confident in, their own voice. That can come with time and experience, and we have a handful of rough diamonds that I’ll keep my eye on. For the most part though, I’m still scouring the city for new talent.